WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- Nikki Haley resigned Tuesday as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in the latest departure from President Donald Trump's national security team.
Haley stayed coy on her reasons for quitting, saying only that it was "important to understand when it's time to stand aside."
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.
The former governor of South Carolina, Haley took the job with little experience in foreign policy but quickly became the full-throated voice at the United Nations for the often unpopular agenda of Trump.
Haley has pressed for a hawkish line on Iran, justified U.S. cuts to foreign assistance and earlier this year led the United States in bolting from the UN Human Rights Council, accusing it of bias against Washington and the occupying regime of Israel.
At the recent UN General Assembly session, Haley took the highly unusual step for a senior diplomat of joining street protesters against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, shouting from a megaphone that the leftist leader should leave office.
Meeting Haley in the Oval Office, Trump said that Haley had done a "fantastic job" and would leave at the end of the year.
"She told me probably six months ago," Trump told reporters, '"I want to take a little time off.'"
The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley had long been seen as a rising star in the Republican Party.
Haley, whose given name was Nimrata Randhawa, was elected governor in 2010 of deeply Republican South Carolina and, during the 2016 campaign, had criticized Trump over his remarks on immigrants before their political reconciliation.
Sitting beside Trump in the Oval Office, Haley said her 18-month stint at the United Nations had been "an honor of a lifetime” and said she would stay on until the end of the year.
She echoing previous statements from Trump, claimed that the United States under his presidency is now respected around the world.
"Now the United States is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do. They know that if we say we’re going to do something, we follow it through,” she said.
Haley has been the face of Trump’s "America First” policy at the United Nations, ardently defending his hardline policies.
"She’s done a fantastic job and we’ve done a fantastic job together. We’ve solved a lot of problems and we’re in the process of solving a lot of problems,” Trump said.
Haley's is the latest resignation in a turbulent White House, where Trump is already on his third national security adviser and second secretary of state before even the midterm elections.
Her resignation was a closely guarded secret. Congressional Republicans involved in foreign policy matters and some key U.S. allies did not get advance word from Haley or the White House.
Trump said he was considering many candidates for Haley’s job and that a successor would be named in two to three weeks.