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Nikki Haley Takes Up Post as US United Nations Envoy

  • Margaret Besheer

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley poses with U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres after presenting him with her credentials as the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at U.N. headquarters, Jan. 27, 2017.

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley arrived Friday at the United Nations for her first day of work as the new U.S. ambassador, declaring it would not be business as usual.

"There is a new U.S.-U.N.," Haley told waiting reporters in the U.N. lobby. "It's no longer about working harder, it's about working smarter."

She said that her goal with the Trump administration is to show value at the U.N., "and the way that we will show value is to show our strength, to show our voice, have the backs of our allies and make sure that our allies have our back as well."

WATCH: 'There is a New US-UN,' Haley Says

Haley's tone was in line with the tough talk of the administration, and she put U.S. allies on notice that Washington expects their support. "For those that don't have our back, we're taking names; we will make points to respond to that accordingly," Haley warned.

The former governor, who has little experience in foreign policy and international relations but was overwhelmingly confirmed by the U.S. Senate, said she is ready to reform the U.N. — an organization frequently criticized by Republicans for being too costly and antagonistic of U.S. ally Israel.

Haley said the Trump administration wants her to improve what is working at the U.N. and fix what is not. "And anything that seems to be obsolete and not necessary, we're going to do away with," she added.

Haley's effectiveness could be hampered by her boss, Donald Trump, who is reportedly planning to sign two executive orders — one that would slash U.S. funding to the world body and another that would review the United States' participation in multilateral treaties.

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, right, presents her credentials to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, left, as the new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations at U.N. headquarters, Jan. 27, 2017.

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, right, presents her credentials to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, left, as the new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations at U.N. headquarters, Jan. 27, 2017.

U.S. funding cuts

The U.S. contributes 22 percent of the United Nations' annual budget and nearly 30 percent of its massive peacekeeping budget, as well as providing voluntary contributions to humanitarian appeals, U.N. funds and other programs. If the president signs the order, it could result in "at least a 40 percent overall decrease" in funding, according to The New York Times, which broke the story this week.

Such a move would diminish Haley's leverage in dealing with the organization and its 193 member states. It also could inadvertently open the door to another power — some U.N. observers speculate China — filling the U.S. financial void and increasing its influence.

The United Nations has been cautious in responding to the reports. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said he would not comment on policies that have not been enacted.

"Obviously, the United States is a major partner and the largest donor to the United Nations," he added. "The secretary-general looks forward to initiating the dialogue with the new administration once everybody is in place."

Haley met with U.N. chief Antonio Guterres on Friday morning to present her credentials.

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