Kelly Craft is a substantial donor to the Republican Party and is married to a billionaire coal-mining baron. Nikki Haley is due to step down as envoy to the United Nations.
After a four-month search, US President Donald Trump on Friday confirmed that Kelly Craft, currently the US ambassador to Canada, would replace Nikki Haley as his envoy to the United Nations.
Trump announced his decision in a pair of tweets, praising Craft's credentials for the job.
"I am pleased to announce that Kelly Knight Craft, our current Ambassador to Canada, is being nominated to be United States Ambassador to the United Nations...," Trump wrote.
"Kelly has done an outstanding job representing our nation and I have no doubt that, under her leadership, our country will be represented at the highest level. Congratulations to Kelly and her entire family!"
Craft is the wife of billionaire coal-mining executive Joe Craft, and they are major Republican donors. She made headlines as Canada ambassador nominee when she said she believes in "both sides" of climate science.
"I think that both sides have their own results, from their studies, and I appreciate and I respect both sides of the science," Craft told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2017.
Craft's nomination is yet to be approved by the US Senate. If selected, she will not hold a Cabinet-level position, as it has been downgraded by President Trump.
According to Reuters news agency, Craft held meetings with Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton on Friday at the Oval Office.
Secretary Pompeo described Craft as an "outstanding advocate for America's national security and economic interests in Canada" and "extremely well-qualified" for the UN ambassador job.
Read more: US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley resigns
Challenges for Craft
Craft was not Trump's first choice for the UN post; he had planned to nominate former State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, but she withdrew her name from consideration last week, citing family reasons.
Trump had also considered US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and former Senate candidate from Michigan John James for the UN role.
Craft, a Republican donor from Kentucky, served as a member of the US delegation to the UN General Assembly under President George W. Bush's administration.
As US ambassador to Canada, Craft played a key role in negotiating the US-Mexico-Canada trade deal, a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
If confirmed to the new post, Craft is likely to face a number of challenges, including containing Iran's influence in the Middle East and mending ties with the European Union.
Francois DeLattre, France's UN ambassador, said she looks forward to working with Craft. "I hope that Ms. Craft will continue, like Nikki Haley, to be a bridge between Washington and the UN at a time when we more than ever need an America that is engages with the UN in world affairs and committed to our shared values, beginning with human rights," she said.
shs/amp (AP, Reuters)