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Donald Trump appoints Nikki Haley, Betsy DeVos and Ben Carson to cabinet

Donald Trump has announced South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley as the new US ambassador to the UN.

Betsy DeVos has been named as education secretary. It has also been reported that Ben Carson has accepted an offer to serve as Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The appointments of Mrs Haley, Mrs DeVos and Mr Carson will need to be approved by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Ms Haley, 44, is the first woman appointed to his cabinet. The Republican governor is currently serving her second term, and has worked on trade and labour issues, but is said to have little foreign policy experience.

After the announcement, Jason Miller, a transition spokesman, said Mr Trump has interviewed more than 60 "qualified people" for administration jobs.

"Governor 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," TMr rump said in the release. "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."

Ms Haley, an outspoken Trump critic throughout much of the presidential race, would become his first female — and first minority — Cabinet-level official if confirmed by the Senate. She is the daughter of Indian immigrants and is the second Asian-American to serve as a US governor.

While Ms Haley is seen to have limited foreign policy experience, Mr Trump said he was impressed with her knowledge of global affairs. Mr Miller also said the two had "a natural chemistry."

If confirmed, Ms Haley will be replaced in her current role by Henry McMaster, a top Trump ally. A source said the move was seen inside Mr Trump's inner circle as a way to promote them both.

Ms Haley has been described as the establishment’s choice to represent a sensible side of Republicanism, directly contrasting the controversial President-elect.

When she delivered the Republican response to the State of the Union address at the start of the year, Ms Haley appeared to take a swipe at Mr Trump.

“Today we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory,” she said. “During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.”

She also defended Muslims and legal immigration in the speech.

Bad blood between Mr Trump and Ms Haley was evident in interviews and on social media during his campaign. "The people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley!" Trump wrote on Twitter in March. Haley denounced several of Trump's campaign comments and urged voters to "reject the siren call of the angriest voices."

Ms Haley has also been accused of trafficking right wing conspiracy theories in the past, linking President Obama to riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, and contrasting these events with her handling of shootings by citizens, rather than police, in South Carolina.

“Our state was struck with shock, pain and fear. But our people would not allow hate to win,” Ms Haley said, of a massacre which killed nine people at a Church in Charleston in June 2015.

“We didn’t have violence; we had vigils," she said. "We didn’t have riots; we had hugs."

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham praised Ms Haley as a good choice and said in a statement that he looks forward to working with her on "overdue reforms of the United Nations." Graham is chairman of the Senate's Foreign Operations Subcommittee on Appropriations, which is responsible for funding the UN and all American foreign assistance.

Ms Haley said she accepted the assignment partly out of "a sense of duty."

"When the president believes you have a major contribution to make to the welfare of our nation, and to our nation's standing in the world, that is a calling that is important to heed," she said in a statement.

Not all presidents have treated the ambassadorship to the UN as a Cabinet-level position, and Republicans have tended not to grant that status.

Mr Miller said Mr Trump is "spending significant time" weighing his choice for secretary of state. Among those he has interviewed is 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who repeatedly denounced Trump during the 2016 campaign.

After secretary of state, the UN ambassador is the highest-profile diplomatic position, often serving as the voice for US positions on the international stage. As part of the Cabinet, Ms Haley would have more opportunity to shape US policies, rather than simply defend the administration's positions.

Yet it could be an awkward role at times. Mr Trump campaigned on the theme of "America first" and said he is skeptical about "international unions that tie us up and bring America down." Mr Trump has also described the United Nations as weak and incompetent.

Ms Haley would be the third consecutive female US ambassador to the UN, after Susan Rice and Samantha Power, the current ambassador.

Independent News Service

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