KASU

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.

British Prime Minister Theresa May's hopes of persuading her peers in the European Union to keep the U.K. in the bloc's single market were dashed at an informal summit in Salzburg that ended on Thursday.

She appealed for compromise to ease the United Kingdom's departure from the EU, speaking in the theater where "So Long, Farewell" was performed by the Von Trapp family in the 1965 film The Sound of Music. But EU leaders clearly were not feeling nostalgic.

Doctors at the Charité hospital in Berlin say it's "highly plausible" Pyotr Verzilov of the Russian protest band Pussy Riot was poisoned last week, although it's unclear with what or by whom. Verzilov is currently being treated in Berlin.

"We have no indication — and this is important — that this was an infection or metabolic disease," the hospital's CEO, Dr. Karl Max Einhaeupl, told reporters at a news conference in Berlin. But "we cannot say anything about the question of how this toxin got into the body. It's not for us to answer this question."

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Under the deal, migrants registered in other European Union countries will be held in transit centers as Germany negotiates their return. The country's rebellious interior minister had threatened to quit and pull his party from Angela Merkel's coalition government if the German chancellor did not take a harder line on asylum seekers.

Tempers are flaring at the highest political levels in Europe — to the point that even the typically stoic German chancellor, Angela Merkel, appears on edge.

A clear sign surfaced Thursday morning, when Merkel tried briefing the German parliament about the European Union summit now underway in Brussels. Hecklers kept interrupting her as she spoke about the need for improved border security and keeping migrants who apply for asylum elsewhere from then doing the same in Germany.

Updated at 4 p.m. ET

Richard Grenell has been the U.S. ambassador to Germany for barely a month, but already politicians on both sides of the Atlantic are demanding he be recalled.

On Thursday, Hamburg became the first city in Germany to ban diesel vehicles on its streets — at least in part. But many Germans question whether the limited ban is an environmental milestone, as the city claims, or a political shell game that will ultimately create more pollution.

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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.

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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A love story turned murder mystery is sparking mass protests across Slovakia and even led to the collapse of that government there earlier this week. But that wasn't enough for many Slovaks who took to the streets again last night, as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports.

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.

It may be Fashion Week in Berlin, but the hottest shoes people are lining up for in the German capital are hardly haute couture.

The design has the same red, blue and black pattern you'll find on the seats in Berlin buses, streetcars and subways.

At $220, the shoes aren't exactly cheap. Unless, of course, you count the transit ticket sewn into the tongue that gives the wearer a free ride in most of Berlin until Dec. 31. An annual ticket from Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe, or BVG, the city's mass transit authority, goes for at least four times that amount.

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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