U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has named South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as his intended nominee for the post of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, tapping a candidate who criticized him during the presidential race and who has little experience in foreign affairs.
Trump said in a November 23 statement that Haley "has a proven track record of bringing people together regardless of background or party affiliation to move critical policies forward for the betterment of her state and our country."
"She is also a proven dealmaker, and we look to be making plenty of deals. She will be a great leader representing us on the world stage," Trump added.
Haley, 44, the daughter of Indian immigrants, strongly criticized Trump during the presidential campaign over his immigration stance and also for not speaking out more forcefully against white supremacists among his supporters.
A rising star in the Republican Party, Haley is the first nonwhite female cabinet-level official to be appointed by Trump.
She said in a statement released by Trump's transition team, "Our country faces enormous challenges here at home and internationally, and I am honored that the president-elect has asked me to join his team and serve the country we love as the next ambassador to the United Nations."
If confirmed by the Senate, Haley would succeed Pulitzer Prize-winning author Samantha Power, who has served as the U.S. envoy to the UN since 2013. Power, who previously served on outgoing President Barack Obama's National Security Council, has been a fierce critic of Russia during her ambassadorship.
Haley's foreign-affairs background, in contrast, has been limited largely to negotiating with international companies seeking to operate in South Carolina, where she has served as governor since 2011, according to the Post and Courier, a newspaper in the state capital, Charleston.
Power has been a vociferous critic at the UN of Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, its backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine, and of Moscow's backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Little is known about Haley's positions on the continuing standoff between Ukraine and Russia or the bloody conflict in Syria, though last year she asked U.S. federal authorities not to resettle Syrian refugees in South Carolina, saying potential terrorists could mistakenly be allowed in the state.
Haley was also one of 15 U.S. governors who signed a letter last year opposing the deal between Iran and major world powers to lift some sanctions against Tehran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
"The lifting of federal sanctions that will result from this agreement will only result in Iran having more money available to fund terrorist groups and attacks," the governors wrote in the September 2015 letter.
Haley has also been a vocal supporter of Israel, signing a bill last year that was lauded by Jewish groups because it bars public entities from conducting business with companies that engage in anti-Israel boycotts.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, The New York Times, McClatchy, and Politico