President Donald Trump appeared to cast his daughter and a former senior White House national security official as the frontrunners to replace Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations.
Haley, 46, was appointed to the U.N. post in November 2016 and last month coordinated Trump's second trip to the United Nations, including his first time chairing the Security Council. Haley had expressed some frustration that her voice had been diminished as the two men became the aggressive new faces of Trump's foreign policy, the official said. She said that as a businessman Trump would appreciate "my sense that returning from government to the private sector is not a step down but a step up".
The Trump administration's goal was to show USA strength, speak out, and defend its allies - and as for countries opposing America, "we're taking names" and will respond accordingly, she said.
But the president she had told him about her plans some months ago, informing she wanted to "take a break" after two years in the high-profile post. He was effusive in his praise of her. Among those under consideration, Trump said, is former deputy national security adviser Dina Powell. "She's done a fantastic job and we've done a fantastic job together".
"No, I'm not running in 2020" for president, she joked, quickly adding that she would be supporting Trump.
The feel-good nature of her resignation was markedly different from other high-profile departures from Trump's Cabinet.
Haley was seen by her counterparts at the United Nations as a voice of clarity in a US administration that often gave off mixed signals on foreign policy, diplomats say.
"I didn't see this coming - there had been no immediate signs", one diplomat said. The timing came as a surprise to her colleagues at the state department and at the United Nations security council.
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Llorentty Soliz stressed the separation, echoing Bolivian President Evo Morales, who launched a blistering critique of USA policy toward Iran, the Mideast and Trump's immigration policies at a Security Council meeting the American president presided over on September 26 during the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders.
"I proudly serve in this administration, and I enthusiastically support most of its decisions and the direction it is taking the country", Haley wrote.
A convert to Christianity in her 20s after being raised a Sikh, Haley is popular with religious conservatives in the South.
Some foreign policy observers had floated the South Carolina Republican as a candidate. "They should be heard, and they should be dealt with".
"I don't get confused", Haley said in a sharply-worded rejoinder to the West Wing.
Haley has long taken a tougher public stance on Russian Federation than Trump, who has sought better relations with President Vladimir Putin. Trump then decided not to go ahead with the move.
Haley also secured three successively tougher Security Council sanction resolutions against North Korea - which the administration has credited with bringing Kim Jong-un to the negotiating table - and an arms embargo against South Sudan. At the United Nations, she helped spearhead the administration's efforts to combat what it alleged to be anti-American and anti-Israel actions by the global body, and address US tension with its European allies and with Iran and North Korea.
Sweden's UN Ambassador Olof Skoog said "there are issues that relate to the UN where we don't always see eye to eye, but with Nikki there has always been a very close relationship, respectful and very frank".