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.

Just as the Arab uprisings were getting under way, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was warning that the region's foundations were sinking in the sand and that governments needed to respond to the needs of a young, educated and underemployed generation.

Now, she's come up with a new catchphrase.

"As tens of millions of young people enter the job market each year, we recognize that the Arab political awakening must also deliver an economic awakening," Clinton said. "And we are working to help societies create jobs to ensure that it does."

Human rights groups don't usually cheer military forays. But they have offered loud applause for the Obama administration's decision to send 100 military advisers to several countries in Africa to help those nations fight one of the continent's most notorious rebel groups, the Lord's Resistance Army.

With the Palestinian membership bid sitting — and likely going nowhere — in the U.N. Security Council, the Palestinians are trying another route to upgrade their international status.

They are applying for full membership in UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and may do the same with other specialized U.N. agencies.

And that has diplomats at the State Department increasingly concerned about what impact this may have on the U.S. position in the U.N. system.

While much of the focus this past week has been on an alleged Iranian plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., diplomats and law enforcement officials in the U.S. and Europe also began to take aim at Syria for an alleged conspiracy to intimidate dissidents abroad.

Syrian-American Mohamad Soueid was indicted in the U.S. on charges he passed information about dissidents back to the country's intelligence services.

On Monday, a judge is set to decide whether he should remain in prison pending his trial.

An Agent Of The Syrian Government?

Humanitarian groups are increasingly worried about the looming budget cuts in U.S. foreign assistance. They argue that lives are at stake, literally, in places like the Horn of Africa, which is suffering its worst drought in decades.

Raising public and private money for that has been a challenge in the current economic environment.

Hollywood stars and politicians have resorted to using the F word — in this case Famine — to get the attention of Americans about the humanitarian emergency in Somalia.

Syrian exiles have been harassed and monitored at anti-government protests abroad, and their families back home have been threatened, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

As Egypt tries to figure out a path forward following its revolution, the country's foreign minister was in Washington this week attempting to reassure the Obama administration that all is going well.

For the Americans, the two big issues are the status of Egypt's elections and the state of Egypt's relations with Israel. There are unanswered questions on both fronts.

Vladimir Putin's planned run for the presidency next year comes as no surprise to U.S. policymakers. But it may make their lives more complicated and signal a return to more troubled times in U.S.-Russian relations.

Russia's dominant political party, United Russia, nominated Putin as its presidential candidate on Saturday. That virtually assures him that he will return to his old job, which he held from 1999 to 2008. The current president, Dmitry Medvedev, will be the candidate to replace Putin as prime minister.

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."

The president of the Palestinian Authority has asked the U.N. to recognize his state. The Israelis say such a move would violate past agreements and are threatening retaliation. U.S. and European diplomats are scrambling to head off what could be a diplomatic train wreck.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

An Iranian exile group is ramping up its lobbying campaign to get off a U.S. terrorist list, and the issue has sparked a fierce debate among foreign policy experts about the wisdom of such a move.

Supporters of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq see it as a potentially useful group in countering Iran. It has provided the U.S. information about Iran's nuclear program, for instance. Others see it as a dangerous cult and warn that taking it off the Foreign Terrorist Organization list would undercut peaceful Iranian dissidents, who want nothing to do with the MEK.

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.

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.

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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