WHEN President Donald Trump takes the world stage at the United Nations for the first time this week, he will share the spotlight with his envoy Nikki Haley, who has emerged as the surprising public face of US foreign policy.
Haley, the 45-year-old former South Carolina governor, has proven to be a high-profile member of Trump’s administration, at times overshadowing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp, despite her lack of previous foreign policy experience, diplomats say.
“For the US, Nikki Haley is remarkable. It’s hard to find in the Trump administration. It’s someone who is very approachable and politically very assertive,” said a senior European diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“I see her potentially taking over from Tillerson at some point. It’s clear her long-term objective is the presidency,” the diplomat said.
Haley dismisses speculation she could replace Tillerson, the country’s top diplomat, who has at times publicly differed with Trump during the president’s eight months in the White House.
On Sunday, she told CNN that Tillerson is “not going anywhere and I continue to work well with him.”
Trump’s speech on Tuesday at the UN General Assembly will be his highest profile opportunity to explain his foreign policy vision couched in his America First agenda.
Haley arrived at the 193-member world body in January pledging to “take names” of allies who did not have Washington’s back. Trump administration officials say the president, happy with her performance, views her as both tough and smart.
He speaks regularly with Haley, his fellow Republican, one US administration official said.
Twice in five weeks she persuaded the 15-member UN Security Council to unanimously boost sanctions on North Korea. Her blunt language has raised eyebrows among diplomats.
At the same time she has been careful not to steal the limelight from Trump, a wealthy businessman and former reality television star.
“I personally think he slaps the right people, he hugs the right people, and he comes out with the US being very strong in the end,” Haley told White House reporters on Friday, Reuters reports.