Monday 19 March 2018

New US ambassador to UN will 'bring people together'

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Photo: Getty Images
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Photo: Getty Images

Donia Chiacu

Donald Trump has picked South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who has little foreign policy experience and who sharply criticised him during his election campaign, for the high-profile post of US ambassador to the United Nations.

The Republican president-elect praised Ms Haley in a statement yesterday as having "a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country".

Ms Haley said she had accepted the offer and would remain governor pending her confirmation to the cabinet-level post by the US Senate.

A 44-year-old Republican, Ms Haley clashed with Mr Trump during the presidential campaign over his harsh rhetoric about illegal immigrants and for not speaking forcefully enough against white supremacists.

Yesterday, she said in a statement: "When the president believes you have a major contribution to make to the welfare of our nation, and to our nation's standing in the world, that is a calling that is important to heed."

Ms Haley is just the sixth appointment announced by Mr Trump, as he works to form an administration.

The president-elect, working largely out of his office in Manhattan, has made his deliberations for senior jobs a public affair, issuing a daily list of his meetings and announcing some impressions of candidates on Twitter.

The choice of Ms Haley, a daughter of Indian immigrants who is a voice for tolerance, may be aimed at countering criticism of his hugely divisive comments about immigrants and minorities, as well as accusations of sexism during his campaign.

Ms Haley led an effort last year to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina state capitol after the killing of nine black churchgoers in Charleston. The flag was carried by pro-slavery Confederate forces during the US civil war and is viewed by many as a racist emblem.

She condemned Mr Trump during the Republican primary campaign to pick the presidential nominee for not disavowing the support of white supremacist group Ku Klux Klan and one of its former leaders, David Duke.

In her rebuttal to Barack Obama's State of the Union address in January, Ms Haley called for tolerance on immigration and civility in politics, in what some saw as a rebuke of Mr Trump.

"During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices," she said. "We must resist that temptation."

As with Mr Trump's future secretary of state, her job may include reassuring allies worried about some of Mr Trump's campaign rhetoric, including his pledge to build a wall along the Mexican border to curb illegal immigration, his promise to review trade agreements and his suggestion he would push Nato partners to pay more for their own defence.

Irish Independent

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