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Envoy Nikki Haley says Trump goal at UN is to show US strength

world Updated: Jan 28, 2017 09:48 IST
Indian-American Nikki Haley

Newly appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley makes a statement upon her arrival at UN headquarters in New York City.(Reuters Photo)

New US Ambassador Nikki Haley arrived at the United Nations on Friday announcing a new way the US does business: The Trump administration’s goal is to show US strength, speak out, and defend its allies — and as for countries opposing America, “We’re taking names.”

The former South Carolina governor said the United States will respond “accordingly” to opponents.

Haley spoke to the news media immediately after she walked into UN headquarters for the first time, saying “it’s a thrill to be here” and declaring that at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, “You are gonna see a change in the way we do business. It’s no longer about working harder, it’s about working smarter.”

In the halls of UN headquarters, the Trump administration’s approach to the 193-member world organisation has been a subject of non-stop diplomatic discussion, speculation and concern.

The United States is a permanent veto-wielding member of the UN Security Council, the UN’s most powerful body, and pays 22% of its regular budget and over 28% of the costs of its far-flung peacekeeping operations.

Haley said President Donald Trump wants her to put “fresh eyes” on the United Nations.

“Everything that’s working we’re going to make it better,” she said. “Everything that’s not working we’re going to try to fix, and anything that seems to be obsolete and not necessary we’re going to do away with.”

In blunt language, with none of the diplomatic nuances characteristic of discussions here, Haley outlined the new US approach to the United Nations.

“Our goal with the administration is to show value at the UN, and the way that we’ll show value is to show our strength, show our voice, and have the backs of our allies and make sure that our allies have our back as well,” Haley said.

“For those that don’t have our back we’re taking names,” she said. “We will make a point to respond to that accordingly. But this is a time of strength. This is a time of action. This is a time of getting things done.”

Haley then got on an elevator and went to the 38th floor where she presented her credentials to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who became UN chief on January 1. They then went into his office for a private discussion.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres “was pleased” to start discussions with the Trump administration, stressing that “the United States is a critical partner to the United Nations.” He refused to give any details on the subjects that were raised.