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.

President Obama has set a goal this year of taking in 10,000 Syrian refugees who have fled the devastating civil war in that country. This would be a large increase from previous years.

The latest State Department reports say just over 2,800 have come so far this year. Some activists describe it as a relatively slow start, but they say the Obama administration could reach its goal by year's end.

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."

Syrian President Bashar Assad is sounding rather confident these days. In his first major address in the past two months, he promised that his troops will reclaim "every inch" of Syrian territory.

"We have no other choice but to be victorious," Assad told Syria's parliament on Tuesday. He also lashed out at rebels, blaming them for the failure of peace talks backed by the United Nations.

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It should be a fairly routine matter for a press freedom organization to get the credentials to attend meetings at the United Nations, an international body whose charter calls for the respect of human rights and basic freedoms.

Instead, the Committee to Protect Journalists found itself in what it calls a "Kafka-esque" process, deferred for years — and on Thursday, blocked by 10 countries, including Russia and China, which CPJ calls the biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

Secretary of State John Kerry has negotiated himself into the odd position of explaining to Western banks how they can do business in Iran.

As he tries to keep the Iran nuclear agreement on track in the final year of the Obama administration, Kerry has become personally involved in trying to help Iran get economic benefits out of the deal. That's no easy task and one that critics say is letting Iran off the hook.

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Randy Berry has seen dramatic changes during his more than 20 years at the State Department.

When he moved from a post in Nepal to New Zealand years ago, he had to pay for his husband's plane ticket because such spousal benefits were not covered for gay and lesbian couples.

"Those days are gone," Berry says in an interview at his State Department office.

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The Obama administration has shaken up U.S. policy by reaching out to longtime foes including Cuba, Iran and Myanmar. This has spurred a debate about what impact, if any, the U.S. moves have on human rights in these countries.

Some argue that such engagement can encourage authoritarian countries to improve their human rights record, while others say it makes no difference, or may even lead regimes to feel they don't have to worry about punitive measures for rights violations.

President Obama's visit to Argentina this week coincides with the anniversary of a dark moment in that country's history. Thursday marks 40 years since a 1976 military coup that ushered in that country's so-called Dirty War, when as many as 30,000 Argentines were killed or disappeared during a seven-year dictatorship.

Human rights groups want the U.S. to divulge what it knew back then. The president is now promising that he will declassify new documents.

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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.

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's term expires at the end of this year. The election process to find a successor usually plays out behind closed doors. This year, though, the U.N. is trying something new — giving candidates a chance to make their case in public. And, there's a big push by activists to get a woman at the helm.

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When the U.S. and Cuba reopened their embassies this year, American businesses started to look for opportunities on the island. They are quickly learning, though, that it will be a tough slog.

Iran has been dismantling parts of its nuclear program faster than many anticipated and could meet its obligations for the lifting of some sanctions as soon as January, according to some officials monitoring the agreement.

Iran's nuclear deal with world powers includes a key target known as "implementation day." No specific date was set when the agreement was reached last July to great fanfare.

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Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to get all sides in Syria's civil war to work out a cease-fire by the end of December. Opponents to the Syrian regime are trying to come up with a negotiating team.

There is movement, but reaching a truce is still considered a longshot in a war that's been raging for more than four years and shows no sign of cooling down. One Syrian opposition figure, Aram al-Doumani, who has good reason to be skeptical of the talks, is making the rounds in Washington this week to explain why.

Friday's attacks in Paris have cast a shadow over the Group of 20 summit, which opened Sunday in Antalya, in southern Turkey. Leaders of 20 major economies agreed to step up the battle against ISIS and to ease the wider conflict in Syria.

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