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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12:01am

Thu February 9, 2012
Middle East

What Do Democracy Promoters Actually Do?

Originally published on Thu February 9, 2012 10:33 am

Members of the Egyptian military stand guard as officials raid the offices of a nongovernmental organization in Cairo. Egyptian investigating judges referred international NGO workers to trial for allegedly being involved in banned activities and illegally receiving foreign funds, security officials said.
Mohammed Asad AP

American lawmakers are furious about a mounting diplomatic crisis in Egypt, where dozens of nongovernmental workers, including 19 Americans, could face trial.

The United States says Egypt needs to let pro-democracy groups continue their work to help the country's transition, but Egypt accuses them of operating illegally.

The work of democracy promotion groups has raised suspicions in many countries, but Lorne Craner, who runs the International Republican Institute, says he has never seen anything like what's going on now in Egypt.

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4:40pm

Mon February 6, 2012
Middle East

U.S. Aid At Risk As Egypt Targets Democracy Groups

Originally published on Mon February 6, 2012 7:33 pm

Egyptian police raid a nongovernmental organization office in Cairo last December. Egyptian investigating judges on Sunday referred 43 NGO workers, including 19 Americans, to trial before a criminal court for allegedly being involved in banned activities and illegally receiving foreign funds, security officials said.
Mohammed Asad AP

In a rapidly escalating dispute between allies, 43 people, including 19 Americans, are to face trial in Egypt for their work in promoting democracy. They include the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

Sam LaHood was running the Cairo office of the International Republican Institute. The case against him and others has caused a furious reaction in Washington — with lawmakers threatening to hold up U.S. aid to Egypt.

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6:14am

Sat February 4, 2012
Europe

In Ukraine, A Daughter Takes Up Her Mother's Cause

A police officer speaks to Ukraine's former prime minster, Yulia Tymoshenko, after she was convicted of abuse of power charges in a court in Kiev on Oct. 11, 2011. She is now serving a seven-year term, but her supporters say the charges against her were politically motivated.
Sergei Supinsky AFP/Getty Images

Evgeniya Tymoshenko has her mother's looks — minus the trademark blond braid that makes her mother, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, quickly recognizable.

But the younger Tymoshenko says she's not a politician. She never imagined herself testifying on Capitol Hill, getting face time with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a prayer breakfast, or speaking to reporters at a K Street lobbying firm.

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12:01am

Tue January 31, 2012
Middle East

Longtime Allies, Egypt And U.S. Now Have Differences

Originally published on Tue January 31, 2012 7:50 am

The U.S. is insisting that Egypt establish a full-fledged democracy and move away from military rule. Here, an Egyptian woman covers her head in a national flag as she demonstrates in a pro-democracy rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Jan. 27.
Khaled Desouki AFP/Getty Images

For many years, top Egyptian officials coming to Washington could expect a warm welcome, with few points of contention.

But for a group of Egyptian generals now in the U.S., several points of friction are likely to dominate the agenda between the longtime allies.

Egypt doesn't like the new conditions U.S. lawmakers have placed on American aid. And the U.S. is furious with the way Egypt has been treating U.S. groups that promote democracy. At least three Americans have taken shelter in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.

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5:00am

Sat January 21, 2012
Europe

New U.S. Ambassador Already Facing Critics In Russia

Originally published on Sat January 21, 2012 10:31 am

Michael McFaul, the architect of the reset of relations with Russia, is now the U.S. ambassador to Moscow as the countries work through a series of difficult issues. Here, McFaul is shown at his Jan. 10 swearing-in at the Sate Department, a ceremony presided over by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Astrid Riecken Getty images

In the early days of the Obama administration, Michael McFaul made his mark as the architect of the so-called reset of relations with Russia.

Now, as the new U.S. ambassador to Moscow, McFaul may need to reset relations once again as the two countries go through another rough patch.

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5:59am

Sun January 15, 2012
Africa

Just A Few Months Old, S. Sudan Already In Turmoil

People who escaped ethnic violence in Jonglei state wait for food rations at a World Food Program distribution center on Thursday. South Sudan gained independence just six months ago, and already ethnic tensions inside the new country have forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.
Michael Onyiego AP

South Sudan gained independence just six months ago, but the country is already plagued by ethnic violence at home and ongoing tensions with its previous rulers in Sudan.

Potential humanitarian crises are brewing in both Sudans, and U.S. diplomats are sounding frustrated that the two are not talking to each other enough.

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8:00am

Sun January 8, 2012
Politics

U.S. Reconsiders Egypt Aid After NGOs Raided

Originally published on Sun January 8, 2012 10:16 am

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Pull back U.S. military aid to Egypt. That is the call from some on Capitol Hill these days. Congress is furious about raids last month by Egyptian security forces on pro-democracy groups in Cairo. The nonprofit groups include the National Democratic Institute, Freedom House and the International Republican Institute. All these groups get U.S. funding and they're in the country helping monitor Egypt's parliamentary elections.

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2:34pm

Tue January 3, 2012
Asia

U.S. Keeps Pressure On Myanmar For Political Change

Originally published on Tue January 3, 2012 9:19 pm

Myanmar has set parliamentary by-elections for April 1, scheduling a highly anticipated vote that will return dissident Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy to mainstream politics after two decades. Here, Suu Kyi attends a fundraising event for the party in Yangon, Myanmar, last month.
Khin Maung Win AP

One of the more surprising moments in U.S. foreign policy last year occurred when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Myanmar, long ruled by a repressive military government and shunned as a pariah nation.

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12:01am

Tue December 20, 2011
Africa

New Law Aims To Shine Light On Conflict Metals

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 8:14 am

Workers dig at a mine in Chudja, near Bunia, north eastern Congo. The conflict in the Congo, a nation rich in mineral resources such as gold, diamonds, tin, and cobalt, has often been linked to a struggle for control over its minerals resources.
Lionel Healing AFP/Getty Images

Delly Mawazo Sesete wants American consumers to know what is in their smart phones, computers and other electronics and where U.S. companies like Apple are getting those rare metals.

Sesete says that, without knowing, consumers in the U.S. could be fueling conflicts in Eastern Congo. The human rights activist is from a remote part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where armed groups are wreaking havoc and get much of their funding from mining rare metals.

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3:10pm

Mon December 19, 2011
North Korea In Transition

U.S. Treads Cautiously With North Korean Transition

Originally published on Mon December 19, 2011 8:19 pm

North Korean residents line up to receive food rations at a Red Cross distribution center in Tongsin, North Korea, in 1997. Discussions over U.S. food aid to the reclusive country were to take place Monday. "You could, in a very real sense, see the needs for food assistance," said an official with Mercy Corps, after a September 2011 visit to the country.
Lasse Norgaard AP

The changing of the guard in North Korea poses clear risks for the United States.

Kim Jong Il's son Kim Jong Un is the likely successor. But he's still in his 20s and has had little time to prepare to take over the country. Analysts say that because he's weak, he won't be in any position to get back to nuclear disarmament talks and make concessions.

Kim Jong Un may also be tempted to take provocative actions to establish his leadership credentials, and the Obama administration has to take all this into account as it decides on next steps.

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