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Trump Says He Will Announce Replacement For U.N. Ambassador In Coming Weeks


Another high-profile departure from the Trump administration. President Trump's United Nations ambassador, Nikki Haley, is leaving the administration at the end of the year. Haley is holding her cards close when it comes to the reasons why. NPR's Michele Kelemen has our story.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: Both President Trump and Ambassador Haley are making clear they are departing ways on good terms.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: She's done an incredible job. She's a fantastic person very importantly, but she also is somebody that gets it.

KELEMEN: Sitting side by side in the Oval Office, Haley was equally effusive about her boss and his family, praising Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner as a, quote, "hidden genius." She also tried to tamp down the talk of a presidential bid before anyone even asked.


NIKKI HALEY: For all of you that are going to ask about 2020 - no, I am not running for 2020. I can promise you what I'll be doing is campaigning for this one. So I look forward to supporting the president in the next election.

KELEMEN: The former South Carolina governor says she just needed a break.


HALEY: I was governor for six years. And we dealt with a hurricane, a thousand-year flood, a church shooting, a school shooting. There was a lot. And then to come in and do two years of Russia and Iran and North Korea, it's been eight years of intense time. And I'm a believer in term limit.

KELEMEN: For Haley, a stint at the U.N. has been a good resume builder for a future political run. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she's a businesswoman-turned-politician who had little foreign policy experience until now. In her resignation letter, she touted the successes she had in getting the Security Council to pass tough sanctions on North Korea and an arms embargo on South Sudan. And she says she stood up for Israel, beginning to roll back what she calls the U.N.'s relentless bias against Israel.


HALEY: Now the United States is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do.

KELEMEN: A longtime U.N. watcher Richard Gowan doesn't go that far, but says Haley herself earned the respect of her colleagues there.

RICHARD GOWAN: She can be very tough on the U.N. and very tough on other countries in public. But in private, she is a dealmaker. And she has secured some pretty important bargains at the U.N., such as sanctions on North Korea, that have served the U.S. well.

KELEMEN: Gowan, who's with U.N. University, a network of international research institutes, says the secretary general also worked well together with Haley on U.N. reforms.

GOWAN: I think there is considerable concern around the U.N. that Haley will be replaced by a less flexible unilateralist rather in the mold of national security adviser John Bolton and that the next U.S. ambassador to the U.N. could take a more slash-and-burn approach to the organization.

KELEMEN: President Trump says he'll fill the job in the next few weeks. Bolton, a former ambassador to the U.N. himself, is likely to have a say in that. Since he came on the job, the U.S. pulled out of the U.N. Human Rights Council and the Iran nuclear deal. The U.S. also recently cut funding to the U.N. agency that helps Palestinians. On Iran and Israel, Haley has been in line with the Trump administration. She only hinted at differences on other topics but was careful not to be seen as leaving the administration for that. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, the State Department. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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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