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US envoy to UN vows ‘strong leadership’

UNITED NATIONS: The new US Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, started work at the 193-member world body on Thursday, pledging to defend US values and interests, support friends and allies and advocate for the poor with “strong American leadership”.

The former US ambassador to Canada replaced Nikki Haley, who stepped down at the end of last year after two years. Craft was President Donald Trump’s second choice — he had planned to nominate former State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, but she withdrew from consideration for family reasons.

“In a world marked by humanitarian crises, the geopolitical challenges, strong American leadership is absolutely critical and I intend to provide it,” Craft told reporters after meeting UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and voting on three UN Security Council resolutions.

“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,” she said.

Unlike Haley, Craft is not a member of Trump’s cabinet. She will face a variety of challenges, including defending Trump’s “America First” policy and navigating his criticism of the world body while getting global diplomats to back US initiatives.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, president of the 15-member Security Council for September, welcomed Craft to her first meeting, saying: “We have long awaited for this and we sincerely look forward to a fruitful, constructive and hopefully a lengthy cooperation.”

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