US Ambassador Nikki Haley has said she had discussed becoming secretary of state with Donald Trump after his election but that the US president ultimately did not offer her the job.
Haley, a rising star in the Trump administration, told a news conference on Tuesday that she had no ambition beyond her current post at the United Nations, for the time being.
Asked about reports that she had turned down the post of secretary of state in November, Haley made clear that Trump had not offered her the position.
“The original call that I received to go to Trump Tower was to discuss secretary of state,” she said. “No, he did not offer it.”
“It was the discussion that we were having at the time. So, when we went in, that was the position that we were discussing.”
Politico reported that Haley had turned down president-elect Trump’s offer to become secretary of state during a November 17 meeting, telling him that she lacked the foreign policy experience.
A former governor of South Carolina, Haley is seen as a skilled politician whose stint at the United Nations could serve as a springboard to a more powerful role in US politics.
Asked about a possible run at the US presidency, Haley said she was focused on her current job.
“Every position I’ve ever had, people have assumed that I am looking toward something bigger, when in reality I am the daughter of Indian parents who said to me ‘whatever you do, be great at it and make sure people remember you for it.'”
“That’s all I’m trying to do,” she said. “Just do my job to the best of ability.”
Haley has been a leading voice on the US administration’s foreign policy, in contrast to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who has held a low profile.
The US ambassador dismissed a suggestion that she was outshining Tillerson, describing the US chief diplomat as a “great partner” and stressing “we work well together.”
The United States holds the presidency of the UN Security Council in April, with key meetings planned on peacekeeping reform, human rights and North Korea.
Tillerson will pay his first visit to the United Nations on April 28 to chair the council meeting on nuclear weapons and ballistic missile non-proliferation and North Korea.