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U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley will leave her post at the end of 2018

Former South Carolina governor says she has no plans to seek the White House in 2020

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

WASHINGTON (CFP) — In a move that caught Washington by surprise, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley has announced that she will step down from her post at the end of the year.

The former South Carolina governor made the announcement at the White House October 9 sitting next to the man who appointed her, President Donald Trump, who told reporters that Haley has “done an incredible job.”

“Hopefully you’ll be coming back at some point … maybe a different capacity,” Trump said.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley announces her departure with President Trump at the White House October 9 (Courtesy White House pool)

Haley, who had been a vocal critic of Trump during the 2016 campaign before signing on to serve in his Cabinet, made it clear that her departure has nothing to do with any future political plans.

“No, I’m not running for 2020,” she said. “I can promise you what I’ll be doing is campaigning for this one,” pointing to Trump.

Haley said that after six years as governor and two years in the U.N. post, she wanted to leave government service and return to private life, although she did not announce any specific plans.

“I think you have to be selfless enough to know when you step aside and allow someone else to do the job,” she said.

Haley also defended Trump’s approach to foreign policy, which has frequently been disquieting to some of America’s traditional allies.

“Now, the United States is respected,” she said. “Other countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do.”

Haley, 46, the daughter of Sikh immigrants from India, had no foreign policy experience when she was tapped for the U.N. post. She is the only woman in a senior-level Cabinet post and the last survivor of Trump’s original foreign policy team, which has featured two different secretaries of state and three national security advisers.

During the 2016 campaign, Haley supported two of Trump’s rivals after urging Americans to resist the temptation “to follow the siren call of the angriest voices,” in what was widely seen as a thinly veiled rebuke of Trump.

She never never explicitly endorsed Trump during the campaign, although she did tell reporters at the Republican National Convention in July that she intended to vote for her party’s nominee.

However, since her elevation to the Cabinet, she has defended the president, most recently by criticizing the author of an anonymous op-ed in the New York Times who described an internal resistance movement within the White House.

“I don’t agree with the president on everything. When there is disagreement, there is a right way and a wrong way to address it,” Haley said. “I pick up the phone and call him or meet with him in person.”

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