Michele Kelemen | KERA News

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.

The great mystery behind what hurt two dozen U.S. diplomatic personnel in Cuba remains unsolved, according to a Senate hearing on Tuesday. But an FBI investigation is casting doubt on a once-popular theory: that embassy staff were the victims of "sonic attacks."

According to a report seen by the Associated Press, an FBI investigation has turned up no evidence that sound waves harmed American diplomats in Havana.

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The Middle East is a region that is used to diplo-speak. When U.S. officials talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they usually parse their words carefully. President Trump, though, is changing that, and it is causing confusion.

Last month, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley explained to the world that although the administration decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, its final status is still up for negotiation.

In summing up his year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told a State Department town hall meeting in mid-December he has no diplomatic wins on the board. "Diplomacy is not that simple," he said. But Tillerson believes his restructuring plan — which includes improving IT systems and streamlining the bureaucracy — has put the State Department in a better place.

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Vice President Mike Pence will travel to Egypt next month, and there's a group of Americans watching that trip very closely. They are the friends and relatives of people who've been swept up in arrests in Egypt over the past few years.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the U.S. would negotiate with North Korea without demanding that the country first agree to nuclear disarmament. This marks a significant change in a approach for Tillerson, who has spent much of this year working on the pressure campaign to cut off financial resources for the North Korean nuclear program.

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The State Department is ordering the Cuban embassy in Washington to downsize, expelling 15 Cuban officials. They have 7 days to leave.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has differed with President Trump over a number of significant foreign policy issues — North Korea, Iran and Qatar, to name a few. But when Tillerson distanced himself from the president on the question of American values — telling Fox News Sunday that the president "speaks for himself" by blaming "both sides" for violence that took place during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. — questions grew over whether he would soon be out of office.

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Charlottesville, Va., is still trying to recover after the deadly white supremacist rally there earlier this month. The city held a town hall yesterday, looking for ways to move forward. NPR's Michele Kelemen was there.

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President Trump's administration says it's trying harder to bring home American citizens detained in Iran. Iran seems to be hinting that it wants another prisoner swap, as the Obama administration once negotiated.

Shortly before he left office in January, President Obama did something that surprised many human rights activists. He suspended some trade sanctions on Sudan, a government notorious for human rights abuses and which the U.S. once accused of carrying out a genocide. The Trump administration has to decide by July 12 whether to stick with this approach.

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