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 Hillary Clinton from Asia to the Middle East and Europe, tracking the Obama administration's broad foreign policy agenda. She also followed the two previous 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 and the tragedy of the sinking of the nuclear submarine Kursk. She also brought to listeners 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 Trump's Twitter account may be popular among his fans at home, but his latest missives are complicating the work of American diplomats overseas. As some diplomats push back, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert cautions that they "are expected to use their judgment."

Consider Trump's personal attack on London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, after Saturday night's deadly terrorist attack in the British capital.

President Trump took to Twitter on Monday to complain about Democratic "OBSTRUCTIONISTS," blaming the Senate for being slow to approve his nominees, including his ambassadors.

A spokesman for the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee threw it right back, saying Trump should be spending less time on Twitter and more time actually filling those positions.

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Beth Herman says she's praying a lot these days for her brother, who was detained by Turkish authorities last October and has been in prison since December.

Andrew Brunson is an evangelical Presbyterian pastor from North Carolina who has lived in Turkey for more than two decades, Herman says, serving as the pastor of the Izmir Resurrection Church.

"He's there because he loves Turkey and the people of Turkey," Herman says.

Brunson, 48, was charged with being part of an armed terrorist group, something Herman and his other supporters say is "totally false."

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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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.

One of the very first bills President Trump signed into law this month killed a Securities and Exchange Commission rule meant to promote transparency in countries riddled with corruption. Trump said getting rid of the rule, which required oil, gas and mining companies to disclose overseas royalties and other payments, would bring back jobs and save extraction companies many hours of paperwork and, potentially, hundreds of millions of dollars.

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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This is a new era for U.S. relations with the European Union.

Gone are the days when the U.S. was more supportive of European integration than some Europeans are. The European Union's top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, is expecting a more businesslike, "transactional" approach with President Donald Trump, who has been skeptical of the EU and backs the British exit plan.

"We do not interfere in U.S. politics ... and Europeans expect that America does not interfere in European politics," Mogherini told reporters at the end of her trip to Washington.

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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."

At the State Department, there is an easy — and usually private — way for employees to register their concerns about U.S. policy. It's called the "Dissent Channel." And today, an unusually large number of foreign service officers are using it.

A dissent cable says Donald Trump's temporary visa and refugee ban "runs counter to American values" and could be "counterproductive."

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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.

As U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon prepares to hand the baton to his successor, Portugal's Antonio Guterres, on New Year's Day, he is lamenting "unfinished business" in a key U.N. doctrine meant to stop genocidal acts.

Ban has described Syria as a "gaping hole in the global conscience." The U.N. fears that South Sudan is on the brink of genocide and that "fires are still burning" in Yemen, Mali and the Central African Republic.

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Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, President-elect Trump's nominee for secretary of state, will have his Senate confirmation hearing in January. Before then, experts say, he'll have to think hard about how to divest from a company where he has spent his entire career.

Tillerson reportedly owns 2.6 million shares of Exxon Mobil stock, which would be worth about $240 million, as of the Wall Street close on Tuesday.

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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Updated at 7:33 p.m. ET

Since this story was written, the State Department said it was contacted by the president-elect's transition representatives. The phone call was apparently limited to a discussion about logistics.

The State Department's transition office has been quiet, as Trump and his top advisers remain in New York. State Department spokesman John Kirby says officials stand ready and willing to offer any briefing materials to the Trump team, but so far, there just haven't been any calls.

One of the promises Donald Trump made on the campaign trail was to dismantle or renegotiate the U.S. deal with Iran that limits its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. If he makes good on that promise, it won't be the first time a Republican administration has walked away from an arms deal negotiated by Democrats.

On this Election Day, Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling just about as far from Washington, D.C., as he can go. He's on his way to Antarctica, becoming the first secretary of state to visit all seven continents after logging well over a million miles while in office.

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