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Nikki Haley Resigns As UN Ambassador


Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is stepping down from her post. I'm here now with NPR's diplomatic correspondent Michele Kelemen. Good morning, Michele.


KING: So this seems to have come as a big surprise. Do we know why Nikki Haley is stepping aside?

KELEMEN: Well, we're only hearing bits and pieces of their announcement right now. But I will say that, you know, Haley has been spending a lot of less time at the security council, except for this past month, of course, which was the big U.N. General Assembly. But she's been doing more speeches, more appearance elsewhere. She already seemed to have been not long for the job. And she seemed to be kind of trying to keep her own image, her own sense of who she is and as a politician not completely tied to Donald Trump.

KING: That's interesting. So although this may seem like big news for people who cover diplomacy, it's maybe not the most surprising news.

KELEMEN: Well, I had been hearing rumblings a while ago that she was kind of not long for the job. And we're - and what we're hearing from President Trump today is that he - that she told him six months ago that she wanted to take some time off at the end of - after two years in office. He is quoted as saying that he hopes Haley will come back in a different role. He says, you can take your pick. And so far, Haley, you know, isn't really pushing him aside or criticizing him or anything. To the contrary, she's saying that other countries may not like what the U.S. does, but they respect it. So again, she kind of keeps her distance from Trump but also supports him.

KING: Let's put her in the broader context of this administration which has been critical of the United Nations on several fronts. How successful has she been at articulating the president's policies, and what do people at the U.N. think of her?

KELEMEN: You know, she is very tough. And she went in very tough saying things like, we're going to take names of people who support us and who don't. On the other hand, you know, she has supported continued payments to most U.N. bodies. You know, she wants to do things like cut back on the amount of money that the U.S. is paying. But when, you know, the rubber hits the road, she has been supportive of a lot of things going on at the U.N. And I think the U.N. secretary general has had a very good relationship with her. He's a politician, too. He's the former prime minister of Portugal. And he seemed to have kind of a rapport knowing that, you know, Haley is a politician of course but...

KING: Yeah.

KELEMEN: ...Also, you know, when their ideas align, things like pushing for a more efficient U.N. system, yeah, he can work with her. And I think that's - that kind of relationship has done the U.N. well for the past couple of years. We'll see what happens next.

KING: Given, as you say, that there have been rumblings that she may be on her way out, do we have a sense of who might be a candidate to succeed Nikki Haley?

KELEMEN: Well, you know, I haven't heard some solid names. I mean, there was a lot of talk before about Dina Powell who left the White House before. She was a Bush administration official and went back to New York. So she might be a possibility. The one thing you can bet is that John Bolton is going to have a big say in that. He's the national security adviser. He was the Bush administration's ambassador to the U.N. and a big critic of the world body.

KING: Yeah. Michele Kelemen is NPR's diplomatic correspondent. Thanks, Michele.

KELEMEN: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF ODDISEE'S "AFTER THOUGHTS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

David Greene is an award-winning journalist and New York Times best-selling author. He is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, the most listened-to radio news program in the United States, and also of NPR's popular morning news podcast, Up First.
Michele Kelemen has been with NPR for two decades, starting as NPR's Moscow bureau chief and now covering the State Department and Washington's diplomatic corps. Her reports can be heard on all NPR News programs, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
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