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US UN envoy resigns – Replacement in weeks

US President Donald Trump announces that he has accepted the resignation of Nikki Haley as US Ambassador to the United Nations, in the Oval Office on Oct 9, in Washington, DC. President Trump said that Haley will leave her post by the end of the year. (AFP)

WASHINGTON, Oct 9, (Agencies): The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, is resigning “to take a little time off” and will leave at the end of the year, President Donald Trump said on Tuesday. Trump said he had accepted Haley’s resignation and would name her successor within two or three weeks. Haley is the latest in a long list of senior staff members to leave the Trump administration, including former secretary of state Rex Tillerson, who was fired in March. Appearing beside Haley in the Oval Office, Trump praised her and said he hoped she could come back to the administration in another capacity.

“We’re all happy for you in one way, but we hate to lose (you) … Hopefully, you’ll be coming back at some point. Maybe a different capacity. You can have your pick,” Trump said. A former governor of South Carolina who is the daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley is seen as a rising star in the Republican Party and a possible candidate for the 2020 presidential elections. But she said on Tuesday she would not be running in 2020 and would campaign for Trump. Earlier this year, Haley, 46, told Reuters that, “Every day I feel like I put body armor on,” to protect US interests at the United Nations.

Haley discussed her resignation with Trump last week when she visited him at the White House, Axios news site reported. Haley was appointed to the UN post in November 2016 and last month coordinated Trump’s second trip to the United Nations, including his first time chairing the Security Council.

A rookie to international politics, the former South Carolina governor was an unusual pick to be UN envoy. “It was a blessing to go into the UN every day with body armor,” Haley said, saying her job was to defend America on the world stage. At the UN, Haley helped spearhead the Trump administration’s efforts to combat what it alleged to be anti- American and anti-Israel actions by the international body. Last month Haley wrote an op-ed article in The Washington Post discussing her policy disagreements but also her pride in working for Trump. It came in response to an anonymous essay in The New York Times by a senior administration official that alleged there to be a secret “resistance” effort from the right in Trump’s administration and that there were internal discussions of invoking the 25th amendment to remove him from office. “I proudly serve in this administration, and I enthusiastically support most of its decisions and the direction it is taking the country,” Haley wrote. “But I don’t agree with the president on everything.”

The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley clashed with then-candidate Trump during the 2016 campaign, denouncing “the siren call of the angriest voices” who disrespected America’s immigrants. Trump tweeted that “The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley.” “Before she was named by Trump to her UN post, Haley was elected the first female governor of South Carolina. She was re-elected in 2014. As governor, she developed a national reputation as a racial conciliator who led the charge to bring down the Confederate flag at the Statehouse and guided South Carolina through one of its darkest moments, the massacre at a black church.

Haley, who has resigned as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, was a virtual unknown on the national and international stage when she joined the cabinet. After nearly two years as one of America’s top voices on foreign policy, the 46-year-old South Carolina native will leave at year’s end with a strong global profile — and a reputation for standing up to the mercurial Trump. With speculation already building about her political future, she quickly denied any plans to challenge her boss in 2020, instead saying in the Oval Office on Tuesday it was “time to stand aside.” “I don’t have anything set on where I want to go,” Haley said, with the president at her side. But wanting a break from the punishing Trump news cycle would surely be understandable.

During her time at the United Nations, Haley — a fellow Republican who previously served as South Carolina’s governor — was unafraid to speak her mind, often in fairly undiplomatic language. She was the face of the White House to the world on everything from North Korean denuclearization to the war in Syria. And the daughter of Indian immigrants, who was raised as a Sikh but identifies as Christian, was the face of diversity in a cabinet criticized for being too white. Haley was not exactly on the Trump train from the get-go — she endorsed Florida Senator Marco Rubio during the Republican primary race in 2016 before backing Senator Ted Cruz.

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