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Trump Picks Nikki Haley To Become His US Ambassador To UN

Haley, currently governor of South Carolina, would replace Samantha Power.

Last updated on November 23, 2016, at 4:34 p.m. ET

Posted on November 23, 2016, at 4:53 a.m. ET

Alex Wong / Getty Images

South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has accepted President-elect Donald Trump's offer to be appointed the next US ambassador to the United Nations.

President-elect Trump confirmed the nomination, praising Haley's "proven track record", in a statement Wednesday morning.

Haley was "honored" to have received the nomination, she said. "Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally," she continued in a short statement.

If confirmed by the Senate, Haley's appointment would be her first in a federal role. UN ambassadors typically have experience in the State Department or National Security Council.

“Governor Haley has 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,” Trump said in a statement.

“She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals," he continued. "She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage.”

The 44-year-old was South Carolina's first female and minority leader. Haley, whose parents emigrated to the US from Amritsar, India, has been governor for five years.

Although generally well-regarded and previously considered a significant rising star within the Republican Party, Haley has little foreign policy experience. She has led eight overseas trade missions, including five to Europe, according to the Post and Courier. So far, her foreign experience has been built around negotiating with international companies seeking economic development deals with her state.

But Haley garnered praise last year for her handling of the Charleston church shooting, later helping to persuade lawmakers remove the Confederate flag. Trump's team may be hoping her ability to successfully navigate the tinderbox following the shooting will stand her well in the the 193-seat UN assembly.

The choice comes as Trump seeks to diversify his lineup of top choices.

Haley criticized some of Trump's proposed policies — notably his intention to ban Muslims from coming to the US — during his campaign. She initially supported Senator Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, and then backed Senator Ted Cruz.

Earlier this year, Haley expressed concerns about the number of Syrian refugees being settled in South Carolina, and urged the State Department to ensure additional security checks were in place before refugees entered the country.

The president-elect met with Haley last Thursday as part of the round of potential cabinet appointment meetings at Trump Tower in New York.

Following their meeting last week, she told reporters Trump had been “a friend and supporter" prior to his presidential run. "But when I see something I am uncomfortable with, I say it,” she said. “When we met, it was friends who had known each other before.”

Despite these warm words, Trump tweeted about Haley in March earlier this year.

Donald Trump / Via Twitter: @realdonaldtrump

In a longer statement, released after Trump's announcement, Haley said his election had brought "exciting changes" to the country. She continued that she had accepted Trump's offer, if approved by the Senate, due to a sense of "duty" to her country.

"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," she said.

Hillary Clinton's vice presidential running mate Sen. Tim Kaine said he looked forward to considering Haley's nomination.

"As a former Governor, I believe that Governor Haley’s executive experience would serve her well in the challenging role of negotiating with all United Nations member states and representing the United States on the Security Council," he wrote.

Not everyone was as supportive of Haley's nomination, however. "The ambassador to the UN must advocate for women, girls & marginalized communities. Nikki Haley's potential appointment is troubling," Planned Parenthood said in a statement.

Her apparent appointment will mean that lieutenant governor Henry McMaster is expected to take her position as governor. McMaster is a close ally of Trump and among his early supporters, the Washington Post reported.

Haley would replace current ambassador Samantha Power, 46, who has been in the role since 2013.

Leonard Leo, former President George W. Bush's US delegate to the UN Human Rights Commission, said Haley would bring the "right principles and priorities". to the job.

Leo said Haley would be able to draw on her experience as governor to "spot instances" where the UN "is seeking to curb the sovereign interests of our country". In a statement Wednesday morning, he continued: "She is committed to human dignity and will be able to push back on UN agendas that elevate abortion over the real human and civil rights atrocities that occur in dictatorships around the world."

He added Haley would be "a friend to Israel and our own national security interests".

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