Nikki Haley was on Wednesday named as US ambassador to the United Nations by President-elect Donald Trump, becoming the first Indian-American to be appointed to a cabinet-level post in any US administration.
“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, referring to his former critic with whom he had sparred bitterly during the campaign.
44-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants from Punjab, Haley is the first woman tapped by Trump for a top-level administration post during his transition to the White House.
“She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage,” Trump said, announcing the South Carolina governor Haley’s name as next US envoy to the United Nations.
The presidential transition team said this would a cabinet-level position in the Trump-Pence Administration.
The cabinet position would require confirmation by the Senate. If confirmed by the Senate, Haley would be the first Indian-American to be appointed to a cabinet-level position in any presidential administration.
“Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally, and I am honored that the President-elect has asked me to join his team and serve the country we love as the next Ambassador to the United Nations,” Haley said, commenting on her nomination to the key post.
Noting that Haley is one of the most universally respected governors in the country, the official announcement said after working at her family’s business, she turned her focus to economic development and has traveled abroad to negotiate with international companies on behalf of South Carolina.
As governor, she has led seven overseas trade missions and successfully attracted jobs and investment through negotiations with foreign companies, it said.
One of her trade missions was to India. Trump’s plan to offer the job to Haley, a rising Republican star, was first reported by the Post and Courier.
Haley, currently the youngest governor in the country, has already carved out a legacy for herself, serving as her home state’s first female and first minority governor.
Haley, who is serving her second term, has worked on trade and labour issues as governor but brings little foreign policy experience. Her views on various US military and national security matters usually fall within the Republican Party’s hawkish mainstream.
Trump met with Haley on Thursday at Trump Tower in New York as part of the round of meetings the president-elect has held.
With her appointment to the top diplomatic post in UN, Haley has become the first woman and minority to join Trump’s administration. She would replace Samantha Power.
Haley was critical of Trump during the primary campaign and had backed Senator Marco Rubio in the Republican primary. However, before the general elections, she switched her position, saying she would vote for Trump.