In a surprise move, Indian-American Nikki Haley Tuesday resigned as the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, becoming the latest casualty in the dysfunctional Trump administration just weeks before the crucial mid-term elections.
US President Donald Trump, who accepted her resignation, said Haley has done an incredible job as the top American diplomat at the United Nations. Haley said she plans to stay in this position till year end.
In a rare, the US president made the formal announcement about Haley’s resignation in the Oval Office and applauded her work.
“I wanted to do this (Oval Office send-off) because Nikki Haley, ambassador to the United Nations, has been very special to me. She’s done an incredible job. She’s a fantastic person, very importantly. But she also is somebody that gets it,” Trump said in the Oval Office in a hastily arranged session with reporters.
“She told me probably six months ago,” Trump told reporters, ‘“I want to take a little time off’.”
Haley, considered as a moderate Republican alternative to Trump, ruled out a 2020 presidential bid and said that she would be campaigning for Trump’s re-election in two years from now.
The first ever Indian-American in any presidential cabinet, 46-year-old Haley said this has been an honour of a lifetime to serve in this position.
“It has been an honour of a lifetime. I -- you know, I said I am such a lucky girl. To have been able to lead the state that raised me and to serve a country I love so much has really been a blessing and I want to thank you for that,” she told Trump.
Trump applauded Haley as having done an incredible job in her position as the top US diplomat at the United Nations.
“She got to know the players. She got to know China, Russia, India. She knows everybody on a first-name basis, and they like her, except maybe a couple, which is normal,” he said.
The daughter of Indian immigrants from Punjab, Haley said she wants to take a break after nearly eight years of hectic pubic life including six years as the governor of South Carolina.
“You have to be selfless enough to know when you step aside and allow someone else to do the job,” she said.
In response to a question why she was leaving this position, Haley said it’s time for her. “My family is very supportive. So no, there’s no personal reasons,” she said.
After becoming the US envoy to the UN, Haley travelled across the globe including a highly successful trip to India in June and made an incredible impact at the New York-based world body.
Trump said Haley has done a fantastic job. “We’ve done a fantastic job together. We’ve solved a lot of problems and we’re in the process of solving a lot of problems. At the beginning, North Korea was a massive problem, and now we’re moving along. It’s moving along really nicely,” he said.
“I can speak for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He thinks the world of Nikki. And so, we’re all happy for you in one way, but we hate to lose, hopefully you’ll be coming back at some point,” Trump said.
“The US is respected; countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do. They know that if we say we’re going to do something, we follow it through,” she said.
Trump said, “many people” are interested in succeeding Haley and a replacement will be named in two or three weeks or maybe sooner.
Born Nimrata “Nikki” Randhawa, Haley was the senior most Indian-American official in the Trump administration.
Her resignation just ahead of the crucial mid-term elections in November came as a shock and surprise to the American foreign policy and national security experts who believe it was a big loss to the Trump Administration.
She is latest Republican to exit the Trump administration.
US President Trump had fired his National Security Adviser Lt Gen H R McMaster in April.
In March, one of Trump’s longest-serving and trusted aides Hope Hicks resigned as the powerful communications director. Also, White House’s top economic adviser Gary Cohn resigned over his differences with Trump on trade policy.
Trump had sacked his beleaguered Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo in March.
Haley was confirmed as UN Ambassador four days after Trump was inaugurated in January 2017. Her nomination was a turning point for the Indian-American community which is increasingly playing greater role in American politics.
She was critical of Trump during the primary campaign. However, before the elections, she switched her position, saying she would vote for Trump.
Haley and her husband, Michael, a Captain in the Army National Guard and combat veteran who was deployed to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, have two children, Rena and Nalin.
“Heartful thanks to Ambassador Nikki Haley for her extraordinary service as the US Ambassador to the UN. Haley served our nation with distinction, faithfully advancing President Trump’s America First agenda and she will be missed,” Vice President Mike Pence said.
Her frank and clear-eyed assessment of global threats as well as much-needed reform at the UN was in the best tradition of American leadership, he said.
“Haley has been a clear, consistent, and powerful voice for America’s interests and democratic principles on the world stage. She challenged friend and foe to be better,” House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said Haley has “a very bright future and will be a key player in both the future” of the Republican Party and the US as a whole for years to come.