Nikki Haley, the Indian American governor of South Carolina, has been picked by president-elect Donald Trump to serve as the US ambassador to the United Nations, according to reports in the American media on Wednesday.
Haley, the youngest serving governor at the age of 44, has accepted Trump’s offer to serve at the UN, a person familiar with the selection process was quoted as saying by The Washington Post. The Post and Courier reported the move is expected to be formally announced later on Wednesday.
Born as Nimrata Nikki Randhawa to Sikh immigrants, Haley is considered one of the rising stars of the Republican party. The UN position will continue her rise in politics since she was elected South Carolina’s first woman and minority governor six years ago.
The appointment came against the backdrop of Trump’s advisers seeking to diversify his ranks and marked his first female appointment to a cabinet-level post, The Washington Post reported.
Haley is currently serving her second term as governor but has little foreign policy or diplomatic experience. This has led to questions being raised about her qualifications for a high-profile position at the world body.
Other recent US envoys to the UN have usually served with the state department or the National Security Council.
The Post and Courier reported that Haley had travelled abroad eight times since she became governor, including leading overseas trade missions to India, Germany France and Japan, and negotiated with international companies seeking economic development deals in her state. Her husband, Michael Haley, was deployed in Afghanistan for nearly a year with the South Carolina National Guard in 2013.
Haley’s “views on various US military and national security matters usually fall within the GOP’s hawkish mainstream”, The Washington Post reported.
Trump met Haley last Thursday at Trump Tower in New York as part of a round of meetings the president-elect has held with potential candidates for his cabinet.
However, Haley has been critical of some of Trump’s proposals, such as his temporary ban on Muslims entering the US, and backed Senator Marco Rubio in the early months of the campaign.
When she met Trump last week, Haley told reporters that she had never disliked the real estate mogul. “He was a friend and supporter before he ran for president, and was kind to me then. But when I see something I am uncomfortable with, I say it,” she said. “When we met, it was friends who had known each other before.”
Haley is the daughter of Ajit Singh Randhawa and Raj Kaur Randhawa, both from Amritsar district of Punjab. Her father was a professor at Punjab Agricultural University before he migrated to Canada with his wife after receiving a scholarship from a university there. Randhawa later moved his family to South Carolina after accepting a job as professor at a local college.