Michele Kelemen

Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering 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.

As Diplomatic Correspondent, Kelemen has traveled with Secretaries of State from Colin Powell to Mike Pompeo and everyone in between. She reports on the Trump administration's "America First" foreign policy and before that the Obama and Bush administration's diplomatic agendas. She 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.

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The Trump administration on Monday labeled four more Chinese news organizations as "foreign missions," expanding its restrictions on what it calls Chinese propaganda outlets in a move that's likely to anger Beijing.

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The State Department's ousted inspector general has told congressional Democrats he was given "no valid reason" for his removal and that one of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's aides tried to bully him.

Democrats are investigating whether Steve Linick was removed in retaliation for carrying out his duties. In an interview with Democratic leaders of the House and Senate last week, Linick confirmed he was looking into the alleged misuse of State Department resources by Pompeo and his wife.

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Updated at 5:36 p.m. ET

President Trump is ousting State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, extending a string of administration firings of government watchdogs.

The president sent notice of Linick's removal, effective in 30 days, to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday. A State Department spokesperson offered no reason for the change but issued a statement confirming that Linick will be replaced by Ambassador Stephen Akard, who currently directs the department's Office of Foreign Missions.

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President Trump has accused the World Health Organization of, quote, severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus in deference to China.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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China, of course, is the place where the coronavirus first struck in large numbers, and the Trump administration has been eager to point that out, pinning the blame on China for the spread of the disease. Here is Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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As countries close borders and flights are canceled amid the coronavirus pandemic, the State Department says as many as 50,000 Americans are seeking help to return home.

Peru has been particularly complicated, according to Ian Brownlee, who runs the State Department's repatriation task force. "There were some [COVID-19] infections in the civil aviation authority and on the civilian side of the airport, and they're trying to run it on a bit of a shoestring from the military side of the airport," he said.

The State Department is urging Americans to return home now unless they are ready to ride out the coronavirus pandemic for "an undetermined period of time." Commercial travel is becoming more difficult, though, and thousands are stranded.

State Department officials, who briefed reporters in a conference call Monday and asked not to be named, said they have heard from 13,500 Americans in need of help around the world. Some are in remote areas and the department says there is no guarantee the U.S. can bring them home.

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And over the weekend, the U.S. and the Taliban signed a deal that calls for peace talks to begin March 10. It also calls for a prisoner swap, but that part's already in doubt, as NPR's Michele Kelemen reports.

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