US President Donald Trump said he is certain that his daughter Ivanka would be "dynamite" as the US ambassador to the United Nations, but conceded that he would be "accused of nepotism" if he selected her to replace Indian-American Nikki Haley.
She returned to Goldman Sachs, where she worked for more than a decade, earlier this year.
"It was a surprise, not a very pleasant one for me personally", said Russia's UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, whose country has clashed with U.S. positions including on Syria, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Her status as a potential candidate for national high office was boosted in 2015 when she ordered the Confederate battle flag to be pulled down at South Carolina's state capitol grounds after a white supremacist gunman shot dead nine black worshipers at a church in Charleston.
When Haley arrived at the United Nations on January 27, 2017, she was the former governor of SC and a novice at worldwide affairs but she wasted no time in announcing a new way the USA was going to do business. She was closer with Trump's daughter Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, who's leading efforts to broker a deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "She was a friend to all of us, and ... beyond the doors of the Security Council we as a group were very friendly". She succeeded in convincing Trump that the United Nations served a useful goal for USA national interests. Washington's decisions to halt to funding for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees and their descendants and to move the USA embassy in Israel to Jerusalem also upset some council members.
Pompeo has led policy on talks with North Korea, while Bolton has taken the lead on trying to implement Trump's hard line against Iran. Officials said at the time her departure was announced that she was leaving to spend more time with her family, who had remained behind in Manhattan. At the United Nations, she helped spearhead the administration's efforts to combat what it alleged to be anti-American and anti-Israel actions by the global body, and address US tension with its European allies and with Iran and North Korea.
"I didn't see this coming - there had been no immediate signs", one diplomat said.
A smiling Haley announced her decision at an Oval Office meeting alongside the President, bringing up her own political prospects even as she underscored her continued support for Trump. He had said she would be "incredible" in the role and acknowledged he would be accused of nepotism if he nominated her. But I want tell you: The people that know, know that Ivanka would be dynamite. She said that as a businessman Trump would appreciate "my sense that returning from government to the private sector is not a step down but a step up".
Trump said that he expects to name a replacement for Haley in the next "two to three weeks", and said that he would be talking about candidates with the former SC governor and others. Trump also said Dina Powell, a former deputy national security adviser, is a "person I would consider" for the job.
US Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell's name has also been floated for the post, but Trump suggested he'd rather keep him in his current post "because he's doing such a good job".
But she insisted that she was not planning to run for president herself against Trump in 2020, when she would likely be seen as a moderate Republican alternative.
"She's young, she's energetic, she's ambitious", Russia's Nebenzia said. "She's done a fantastic job and we've done a fantastic job together".