Who is Nikki Haley, the tough US ambassador to the UN?
With her harsh speeches and independent image, UN ambassador Nikki Haley has become one of the stars of the Donald Trump Administration and one of the country's leading political figures.
Unknown to the general public until only a few months ago, Haley sounds insistently today as a favorite to become the next Secretary of State and even as a possible candidate for the White House in the not-too-distant future.
For now, the ambassador will become the president's right-hand woman during this week's UN meetings at the high-level debate of the General Assembly, a forum that will be inaugurated by Trump.
He chose her to be the voice of the US in the United Nations despite the fact that during the election campaign the then governor of South Carolina had been critical of him and had no experience in foreign policy.
Haley arrived at the UN in January and did so by marking the ground. In her first words in New York, the diplomat advanced that her plan was to assert the "force" of the United States, to support its allies and to ensure that they backed up.
“We’re going to write down the names of those who don’t support us. We will respond adequately”, she said in well-remembered first speech in the UN.
Since then, she has been characterized by her fierce defense of Israel, her harsh criticism of countries like Venezuela and her efforts to tighten pressure on North Korea.
This month, Haley achieved a small victory leading the passage of a quick resolution with more economic sanctions against North Korea after its last nuclear test.
Far from the noise of Washington and the constant mess in the White House - despite being part of Trump's Cabinet - Haley has forged an independent image, though her stances do not differ in general from those of the Republican Party in international issues.
For example, she has used a tougher tone towards Russia than that of her Government and has made a greater emphasis on human rights issues.
Taking advantage of the low profile adopted by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Haley has quickly become one of Washington's main voices in foreign affairs.
The apparent lack of understanding between Tillerson and Trump has triggered in recent weeks speculation about a possible departure from the current head of diplomacy.
If this should be the case, the name of Haley is the most sounded in the American media as a possible replacement.
Many analysts believe that the ambassador to the UN would also be working the ground to opt for the White House in the future.
According to the Politico portal, the Democratic Party is already collecting reports on several Republican figures that could challenge Trump in 2020 or opt for the presidency if he does not run for re-election, and Haley is one of them.
The UN ambassador appears as a very different figure to the New York tycoon, a contrast that became evident again with Trump's criticized reaction to the demonstration of strength of neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.
In June 2015, Haley lived one of the key moments of her career as governor of South Carolina, when a white young person killed nine black parishioners in a church of Charleston trying to provoke a racial war.
Haley then had a key role in calming the spirits and driving state legislators to withdraw the Confederate flag from their Capitol after more than half a century waving as a symbol of the past of segregation and slavery in the southern United States.