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.

At the State Department on Wednesday, officials from 68 countries and organizations gathered for a two-day summit to coordinate plans to fight ISIS. This was the first full meeting of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS since 2014, and a chance for the Trump administration to flesh out what it wants to do differently.

So far, it is mainly stepping up a fight that the Obama administration put in motion.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is calling for a new approach to North Korea. He's in Asia now consulting with Japan, South Korea and China over how to deal with Pyongyang. The options, though, are limited, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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Russia's ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak, is not known to seek the limelight. He's a mild-mannered diplomat and an arms control expert who came to Washington as ambassador in 2008. But he has been in the news a lot of late, as Trump administration contacts with him come under scrutiny.

Rex Tillerson is heading on his second foreign trip as secretary of state later this week. But as in his visit last week to Germany, Tillerson is expected to try to keep a low profile when he travels to Mexico on Wednesday.

Tillerson has said very little in public since taking office. There has been no State Department briefing since the Trump administration began a month ago.

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President Trump is encouraging Israel to hold off on new settlement construction. The surprising statement came after the Israeli prime minister vowed to build the first new settlement in the West Bank in many years.

The White House says while it doesn't see settlements as an obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, the construction of new settlements and the expansion of those beyond their current borders may not be helpful.

When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived at the State Department for his first day on the job, he made a point of visiting two walls in the entryway that pay tribute to fallen foreign service personnel.

"They died in service of causes far greater than themselves," Tillerson told the hundreds of employees who packed the C Street lobby at Foggy Bottom. "As we move forward in a new era, it is important to honor the sacrifices of those who have come before us, and reflect on the legacy that we inherit."

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Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for U.S. secretary of state, is severing his ties with Exxon Mobil. The former chairman and CEO is in line to receive a $180 million retirement package.

President Obama held his final news conference of 2016 and painted a rosy picture of his tenure as president — from economic growth to foreign policy. So how did he hold up on the facts and what context did he leave out?

We look at five different quotes:


1. "The Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies are trying to obfuscate the truth. The world should not be fooled, and the world will not forget."

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When President Obama began opening up to Cuba two years ago, reversing U.S. policy that dated back more than a half-century, he relied on executive orders that did not require the blessing of Congress.

That means President-elect Donald Trump could easily undo Obama's actions. And on the campaign trail, Trump said he would "terminate" Obama's orders that opened the way for travel and trade with Cuba, unless the U.S. could negotiate better terms.

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The U.S. and Russia are trying this week to bridge their differences on Syria to find a way to resolve the complicated war there. And this is happening as the military conflict has only intensified.

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In a report on Monday, Human Rights Watch described a harrowing series of events that took place less than a mile from a U.N. base in South Sudan's capital, Juba. On July 11, the report said, dozens of men in government uniforms "ransacked and looted" a hotel compound, first killing a South Sudanese journalist and then assaulting and raping aid workers staying there.

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When Turkish officials visited Washington this week, one of their first stops was the Justice Department. They are trying to make the case that the U.S. should extradite a key suspect in last month's failed coup attempt.

Following those talks with the Justice Department, three Turkish lawmakers had tough words about Fethullah Gulen, the aging cleric who lives in rural eastern Pennsylvania and whose followers have been rounded up in Turkey in the wake of the coup.

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United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made a startling admission Thursday, saying he bowed to pressure over a report that blasted Saudi Arabia for child casualties that have resulted from its bombing campaign in Yemen.

Ban called it one of the most difficult choices he had to face. The U.N. report on children in armed conflict worldwide describes, in Ban's words, "the horrors no child should have to face."

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Transcript

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President Obama is preparing for an historic visit to Cuba this weekend. Just a few months ago, he told Yahoo! News he would only go if the conditions were right.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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