Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

International correspondent Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is based in Berlin and covers Central Europe for NPR. Her reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning programs including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

She was previously based in Cairo and covered the Arab World for NPR from the Middle East to North Africa. Nelson returns to Egypt on occasion to cover the tumultuous transition to democracy there.

In 2006, Nelson opened the NPR Kabul Bureau. During the following three and a half years, she gave listeners in an in-depth sense of life inside Afghanistan, from the increase in suicide among women in a country that treats them as second class citizens to the growing interference of Iran and Pakistan in Afghan affairs. For her coverage of Afghanistan, she won a Peabody Award, Overseas Press Club Award and the Gracie in 2010. She received the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award from Colby College in 2011 for her coverage in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Nelson spent 20 years as newspaper reporter, including as Knight Ridder's Middle East Bureau Chief. While at the Los Angeles Times, she was sent on extended assignment to Iran and Afghanistan following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. She spent three years an editor and reporter for Newsday and was part of the team that won the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for covering the crash of TWA Flight 800.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, Nelson speaks Farsi, Dari and German.

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Germany waited nearly 16 months for the Trump administration to send a new ambassador to Berlin. But Richard Grenell managed to offend many Germans the day he arrived by posting this note on Twitter:

"As @realdonaldtrump said, US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran's economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately."

For Germans, Friday's working session between President Trump and Chancellor Angela Merkel at the White House proved unexpectedly cordial and, at times, odd.

The chancellor, who is usually reserved, looked surprised when Donald Trump greeted her with a kiss on each cheek, a move the president seemed to have picked up from the French during the first state visit by France's president, Emmanuel Macron, earlier this week.

Updated at 12:38 p.m. ET

Solidarity marches to protest anti-Semitism are planned in Berlin and other German cities on Wednesday after an attack last week on a man wearing a yarmulke sparked widespread outrage.

The attack in Berlin, caught on video, involved a 21-year-old man wearing a Jewish skullcap, also called a kippa, who was suddenly attacked by an assailant calling out "Yahudi!" — the Arabic word for Jew.

The man being attacked replies, "Jew or no Jew you have to deal with it."

For four years, the United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Russia over its aggression in Ukraine. The measures restrict travel and target assets of key individuals linked to the Kremlin.

But Ukraine says there's one major confidant of Russian President Vladimir Putin whom the Europeans should consider sanctioning, but haven't — former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his populist Fidesz party easily swept to victory on Sunday in a parliamentary election that saw the highest turnout of voters in more than a decade.

It will be the third successive term for Orbán, who is the longest-serving prime minister in post-communist Hungary; it's the 54-year-old's fourth term overall. His party is projected to regain its two-thirds majority in the 199-seat parliament.

What do a chicken, gorilla, invisible man and Santa Claus have in common? They are all candidates on ballots that will be cast during parliamentary elections in Hungary on Sunday.

These costumed humans belong to a satirical political party started in Hungary in 2006. It is called "Two-Tailed Dog," known by its Hungarian acronym MKKP, and is fielding candidates in various districts for the first time in nationwide elections.

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The recent resignation of Slovakia's Prime Minister Robert Fico and his government is not easing public anger in the Central European country, where tens of thousands of protesters thronged streets in the capital Bratislava and dozens of other towns on Friday.

They were protesting last month's murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak, who had been reporting on political corruption. He and his fiancée, Martina Kusnírová, an archaeologist, were shot dead in their bungalow in a small village in Slovakia's countryside.

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Hungary and Poland have come to each other's defense on and off since the Middle Ages. And they are doing so now as the European Union increases pressure on the two countries to tamp down what Brussels views as their attacks on democracy.

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They are both Hungarian. They are both powerful. And three decades ago, they both worked to topple communism in their homeland.

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Hungary has quietly closed its borders to nearly all asylum seekers, which human rights advocates say violates international laws and is stranding thousands of refugee families in Serbia.

NPR interviewed asylum seekers, refugee advocates and a lawyer all with direct knowledge of the near closure and the resulting panic and despair. They report that since Jan. 22, Hungary is allowing only one asylum seeker per day to cross from Serbia into each of its two "transit zones."

It's said that time heals all wounds. But not for people afflicted with dementia like Gerda Noack. The 93-year-old German woman's memory is fading, as is her eyesight.

The losses scare her. On a recent morning at the AlexA Residence for Senior Citizens in Dresden, where she lives, Noack sounded anxious as she asked, over and over: "Where am I supposed to go?"

After five hours of uncharacteristic sniping and emotion, Germany's Social Democrats at a party congress in Bonn on Sunday voted 362-279 to enter into formal talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel to form a new German government.

It's a vital step to ending a nearly four-month long political crisis in Germany after last September's elections failed to give any party – including Merkel's conservatives – a majority. Previous attempts by the chancellor to join with other German political parties in a governing coalition failed.

Meet the new German government, same as the old German government.

At least that's the plan of Chancellor Angela Merkel and her political allies, who Friday crafted a deal aimed at ending Germany's 3 1/2-month political crisis.

It may appear an odd strategy, given that German voters gave the previous government the boot.

All three parties making up the last grand coalition — the Christian Democrats (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD) — ended up with historically low returns in last September's federal elections.

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Former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh never gave up trying to stay in power, even when his country and international allies ultimately forced him from the presidency five years ago.

Saleh, reported to have been killed Monday, never wavered in his belief that only he could lead the Yemenis, even though he fueled societal divisions by playing enemies off one another to weaken his opposition.

Like many industrial cities in Germany, Salzgitter, in the northern state of Lower Saxony, has seen better days.

The sprawling municipality's largest employer, Volkswagen, has been hurt by the diesel emissions cheating scandal and international pressure to cut emissions with electric cars — which in turn has cut into Salzgitter's income from taxes and jobs.

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And in Germany, the government is trying to bring about the return of German children who ended up with ISIS. Some of the children were taken to Iraq by their German parents. Others were born there. NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports from Berlin.

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For seven years, Angela Merkel has topped Forbes magazine's list of the most powerful women in the world. In the wake of populism's rise in European and U.S. politics, she's seen by many as a vital pillar of Western values and multilateralism.

But the 63-year-old chancellor of Germany could soon lose her job if she fails to form a new government.

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Like the United States, Germany is grappling with fake news and hate speech and what to do about it. For decades, it has banned incitement, defamation, and phrases and symbols from the Nazi era.

But the lines have been a lot murkier when the offenses in question are on the Internet.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition tried to address the discrepancy this year with a controversial "Network Enforcement Law," which the German parliament passed on June 30, and which quietly went into effect on Oct. 1.

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Update, 12:10 p.m., ET:

Preliminary results show Austrian voters have given the right-leaning party of their 31-year-old foreign minister a mandate to form the next government, but not enough to run Austria without partnering with another party.

Sebastian Kurz, who is likely to become the next Austrian chancellor, would be Europe's youngest leader. The popular foreign minister is said to be an avid hiker and windsurfer.

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