Washington: In a sudden move, Indian-American US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley resigned Tuesday, becoming the latest casualty in the dysfunctional Trump administration just weeks ahead of the crucial mid-term elections.
President Donald Trump, who met Haley in the Oval Office Tuesday, said that she had done a "fantastic job" and would leave at the end of the year.
"She told me probably six months ago," Trump told reporters, '"I want to take a little time off.'" Trump said there are a number of people who would like to do this job and that this is a more glamorous position than it was a couple of years ago, appreciating her work.
Haley, considered as a moderate Republican alternative to Trump, in her remarks insisted that she is not going to run for president in 2020 and will campaign for Trump.
Haley, 46, was the senior most Indian-American official in the Trump administration. Her resignation just ahead of the crucial mid-term elections in November came as a shock and surprise to the American foreign policy and national security experts who believe it was a big loss to the Trump Administration.
She is latest Republican to exit the Trump administration. President Trump had fired his National Security Adviser Lt Gen H R McMaster in April.
In March, one of Trumps longest-serving and trusted aides Hope Hicks resigned as the powerful communications director. Also, White House's top economic adviser Gary Cohn resigned over his differences with Trump on trade policy.
Trump had sacked his beleaguered Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo in March.
In her remarks, Haley said that this is an honour of a lifetime to serve in the administration as she listed out the key accomplishments of the Trump Administration at the United Nations and foreign policy in the last two years.
Trump told Haley that "you have been very special to me," and that she has done an "incredible job". Lauding her accomplishments on issues ranging from North Korea to China at the United Nations, Trump said: "She got to know the players."
"They like her, except for maybe a couple, but that's normal," he said about China, India, and Russia among others. Haley visited India in June on her first visit to the country after becoming the US envoy to the UN.
She said she's a "lucky girl" for having been able to serve as South Carolina (governor) and ambassador. She said she is not leaving till the end of the year.
In response to questions, Trump said, "many people" and interested in succeeding Haley and a replacement will be named in two or three weeks or maybe sooner.
Haley was confirmed as UN Ambassador four days after Trump was inaugurated in January 2017. She had scripted history by becoming the first-ever Indian-American to be appointed to a cabinet-level post in any US administration.
The daughter of Indian immigrants from Punjab, Haley was the first woman tapped by Trump for a top-level administration post during his transition to the White House. Haley's nomination was a turning point for the Indian-American community which is increasingly playing greater role in American politics.
She was critical of Trump during the primary campaign and had backed Senator Marco Rubio in the Republican primary. However, before the general elections, she switched her position, saying she would vote for Trump.
Born Nimrata "Nikki" Randhawa, Haley is the first minority and female governor of South Carolina, a deeply conservative state with a long history of racial strife. She is the first Indian-American woman Governor and the second Indian-American governor of any State.
Prior to becoming governor, she represented Lexington County in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 2005 to 2011. Prior to dedicating her life to public service, Haley worked at her family business.
Haley and her husband, Michael, a Captain in the Army National Guard and combat veteran who was deployed to Afghanistan's Helmand Province, have two children, Rena and Nalin.