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Trump’s UN envoy arrives vowing to fight for American interests

United Nations General Assembly Hall in the UN Headquarters, New York. (IIP Photo Archive/Flickr)
September 14, 2019

Donald Trump’s new envoy to the United Nations pledged to defend U.S. interests at the world body and signaled readiness to work with other countries to solve humanitarian crises.

“I will defend America’s values and interests, I will stand by our friends and allies, I will advocate for the poor and the weak, and I will never fail to work with those who genuinely wish to advance the cause of human dignity,” Ambassador Kelly Craft said at the U.N. on her first day on the job. “In a world marked by humanitarian crises and geopolitical challenges, strong American leadership is absolutely critical and I intend to provide it.”

Trump’s “America First” approach has sometimes rattled officials at the UN, such as when he pulled the U.S. out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and said he’ll quit the Paris climate change accord. But under former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the U.S. also forged a solid relationship with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on issues such as scaling back costly peacekeeping missions. Haley stepped down in December.

Craft, 57, a wealthy Republican donor who previously served as Trump’s envoy to Canada, has signaled she intends to work with the U.N. to muster more resources from other member nations to respond to “massive and protracted” humanitarian crises from Sudan to Yemen and Syria.

She met with Guterres on Thursday morning and praised him as “a very wise and visionary steward of this global body,” adding she is looking forward to working with him and “grateful to him for his insightful leadership.” She then voted with other countries to extend a U.N. mission in Libya and relax certain restrictions on the Central African Republic.

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Unlike Haley, a former South Carolina governor who was given Cabinet-level status in the administration, Craft is expected to report to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the dominant figure on Trump’s foreign policy team following the dismissal this week of National Security Adviser John Bolton.

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© 2019 Bloomberg News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.