Michele Kelemen

A former NPR Moscow bureau chief, Michele Kelemen now covers the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

In her latest beat, Kelemen has been traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton before him, tracking the Obama administration's broad foreign policy agenda from Asia to the Middle East. She also followed President Bush's Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell and was part of the NPR team that won the 2007 Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award for coverage of the war in Iraq.

As NPR's Moscow bureau chief, Kelemen chronicled the end of the Yeltsin era and Vladimir Putin's consolidation of power. She recounted the terrible toll of the latest war in Chechnya, while also reporting on a lighter side of Russia, with stories about modern day Russian literature and sports.

Kelemen came to NPR in September 1998, after eight years working for the Voice of America. There, she learned the ropes as a news writer, newscaster and show host.

Michele earned her Bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Russian and East European Affairs and International Economics.

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2:44am

Sun September 25, 2011
Africa

South Sudan Seeks U.N. Help For 'Difficult Journey'

When President Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly in New York, he held up the example of South Sudan as the right way to join the world body — through a peace process and an independence vote.

"One year ago, when we met here in New York, the prospect of a successful referendum in South Sudan was in doubt," he said, "but the international community overcame old divisions to support the agreement that had been negotiated to give South Sudan self-determination."

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2:00am

Thu September 22, 2011
Middle East

Obama Tries To Nudge Palestinians, Israel Back To Peace Talks

President Obama held separate meetings yesterday with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Obama said there is no shortcut to Palestinian statehood. The administration is trying to revive peace negotiations.

2:00am

Wed September 21, 2011
Middle East

U.N. Membership Could Give Palestinians A Diplomatic Tool

Palestinians say they are undeterred and plan to seek full U.N. membership as a state on territories Israel occupied in the 1967 war. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to present his application when he speaks to the U.N. on Friday. The issue is dominating high level meetings as countries scramble to try to revive a peace process that has failed for decades.

1:54pm

Tue September 20, 2011
Conflict In Libya

President Obama Praises Libya's Political Transition

Originally published on Tue September 20, 2011 5:20 pm

President Obama meets with Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, chairman of the Libyan Transitional National Council, at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday.
Allan Tannenbaum-Pool Getty Images

President Obama met Libya's interim leader Tuesday on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly and held up the country as a model of what the U.N. can do to protect civilians from atrocities.

Obama also pledged continued support and encouraged Libya's new leaders to keep their promises to forge a just, democratic society.

Libyan rebels have yet to find ousted leader Moammar Gadhafi and fighting continues in the country. Still, Obama went to the meeting with a hopeful message.

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2:47am

Mon September 19, 2011
Middle East

Obama Pressured At Home To Do More For Israel

Originally published on Mon September 26, 2011 11:35 am

Israel's most vocal supporters in the U.S. have long complained that the United Nations is a bastion of anti-Israeli sentiment, and this year's General Assembly debate could be worse than ever.

Palestinians are seeking U.N. membership as a state even though there's no peace deal with Israel. Israel is also under diplomatic pressure from regional powers Turkey and Egypt.

Gabriela Shalev was Israel's ambassador to the United Nations until last year, and as world leaders start gathering for this high-level General Assembly debate, she's sounding quite nervous.

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3:29am

Sat September 17, 2011
World

U.S. Underwhelmed With Emerging Powers At U.N.

It's the time of year when world leaders converge at the United Nations headquarters in New York. And this year, there will be a lot of talk about multilateral diplomacy — a priority for the Obama administration since it came to office.

Obama's team has courted the world's rising powers, even publicly backing India's hopes to one day be a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. But now that India, along with South Africa and Brazil, have rotating seats on the council, U.S. officials and many human rights activists complain they're not living up to expectations.

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2:38pm

Tue September 13, 2011
Middle East

Palestinian Plan Puts U.S. In A Bind

A Palestinian flag is raised in front of European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday. The Palestinians are expected to seek statehood at the United Nations next week.
John Thys AFP/Getty Images

The Obama administration is scrambling to head off what it fears will be a diplomatic train wreck at the United Nations next week.

After years of gridlock in Mideast negotiations, the Palestinians plan to seek U.N. membership as a state on territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war. That territory includes the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, and the plan would go through the Security Council, where the U.S. has already promised to use its veto.

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1:00pm

Fri September 2, 2011
Middle East

U.N. Review Of Israeli Flotilla Raid Reopens Wounds

The U.N.'s review of an Israeli commando raid on a Turkish flotilla last year was intended to help resolve the matter, but its release Friday only seemed to reopen the wound.

While Israel was pleased that the panel found its blockade of Gaza legitimate, Turkey has expelled Israel's ambassador and downgraded relations.

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2:00am

Wed August 24, 2011
Africa

World's Diplomats Ramp Prepare For Post Gadhafi Libya

The Obama administration is promising to free up more than one billion dollars in Libyan assets to help the Transitional National Council meet the urgent needs of Libyans in Tripoli and elsewhere. International Diplomats are also ramping up their post-Gadhafi planning. They will hold meetings this Istanbul and in New York.

2:57pm

Tue August 23, 2011
Africa

A New Obstacle To Normal Relations For Sudan, U.S.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir speaks of the capital Khartoum on July 12. Sudan says it should be taken off the U.S. terrorism list, but Washington says it is concerned about new fighting in the south of the country.
Ashraf Shazly AFP/Getty Images

When Sudan allowed South Sudan to become an independent nation last month, it hoped this would put an end to years of friction with the United States.

More specifically, Sudan desperately wanted to be removed from Washington's list of state sponsors of terrorism and get out from under the many sanctions that come along with that designation.

But now the U.S. and the United Nations are raising concerns about fighting, and possible atrocities, near the border between Sudan and South Sudan.

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3:36pm

Tue August 16, 2011
U.S.

Hillary Clinton: U.S. Diplomacy Is Stretched Thin

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the bruising budget battles in Washington are "casting a pall" over US diplomacy abroad and may hurt America's ability to influence events at a crucial moment in the Middle East.

Clinton joined Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the National Defense University in Washington on Tuesday to appeal to Congress to come up with a budget deal that doesn't undercut U.S. national security interests.

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9:12pm

Sat August 13, 2011
World

Famine In Somalia Also Taking Toll On Al-Shabaab

Displaced Somalis waits in a queue for food-aid rations on August 11, 2011 at an IDP camp in Mogadishu. The United Nations has officially declared famine in Somalia for the first time this century.
MUSTAFA ABDI AFP/Getty Images

How can you feed starving people without feeding an insurgency as well? That is one of the challenges the Obama administration faces in providing aid to Somalia.

As the U.S. and other donors scramble to help Somalis survive a famine, some experts see an opportunity of sorts. The drought, they say, seems to be starving the Islamist militia group al-Shabaab of resources, limiting its ability to wreak havoc in Somalia.

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6:14am

Sat July 30, 2011
Africa

Conflict Zone Slows Aid For Somalia's Famine Victims

U.S. officials are sounding increasingly frustrated that they and other big donors can't mount the kind of humanitarian operation that is needed in Somalia. Violence in Mogadishu this week is just the latest of their troubles.

Aid work is never easy, but the troubles add up quickly in a conflict zone like Somalia, says Assistant Secretary of State Eric Schwartz.

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12:43pm

Thu July 28, 2011
Middle East

Worries Grow Over Palestinian U.N. Bid

Originally published on Mon August 1, 2011 9:46 am

Negotiating Palestinian statehood was an early priority for President Obama's administration. But these days, U.S. diplomats are spending much of their time trying to stop the Palestinians from going to the United Nations to try to win diplomatic recognition.

Palestinians say they have no other choice, since negotiations are deadlocked.

Some former Israeli officials came to Washington this week to urge the U.S. to help.

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