WASHINGTON - Indian-American politician Nikki Haley, who is President-elect Donald Trump's choice to be the next US ambassador to the United Nations, Wednesday questioned the priorities and effectiveness of the world body, which Trump has called a toothless debating club, but said she intends to “fix” what doesn’t work.

Born as Nimrata Randhawa to Sikh parents who migrated from Indian Punjab, Ms. Haley, 44, created history by becoming the first woman to occupy the governor’s mansion of South Carolina.

Testifying for her confirmation as the UN envoy before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Haley said, “Like most government agencies, the United Nations could benefit from a fresh set of eyes,” adding she will take an “outsider’s look at the institution.”

Haley was questioned by Republican members if she would shy away from cutting funding to certain UN agencies that take stands that displease the US.

“I won’t shy away, and I need your help to do it,” she told lawmakers, adding that her message to the UN would be, “If this doesn’t change, the funding will stop.”

Yet later in the hearing, Haley tried to soften her stance in an effort to appeal to Democrats who stressed the UN’s work on health and food programmes.

“I do not think we need to pull money from the UN, we don’t believe in slash and burn, it’s not something I would consider,” Haley said, adding that she would advocate looking at individual parts of the UN and whether they deserved US backing.

“The UN and its specialized agencies have had numerous successes,” Haley said. “However, any honest assessment also finds an institution that is often at odds with American national interests and American taxpayers.”

Aside from being a vocal critic of President Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear agreement and from trade missions she led overseas as governor, Haley is not known for her foreign policy credentials - but that doesn’t seem to bother her.

“Diplomacy itself is not new to me,” Haley said in her opening remarks. “In fact, I would suggest there is nothing more important to a governor’s success than her ability to unite those with different backgrounds, viewpoints, and objectives behind a common purpose.”

In a series of talking points released along with her prepared remarks, the transition team declared Haley will “turn the page on the failed diplomacy of the past and introduce a bold new, America-first agenda on the international stage.”

She promised to ensure the United States remains a leading voice at the United Nations and in the international community.

Haley also blasted the UN for the Security Council vote advocating a two-state solution to resolve Palestine-Israel conflict, which the Obama administration chose not to veto, and said that "nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel. ... Last month’s passage of UN Resolution 2334 was a terrible mistake, making a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians harder to achieve.”

"I will not go to New York and abstain when the UN seeks to create an international environment that encourages boycotts of Israel," Haley said. "In fact, I pledge to you this: I will never abstain when the United Nations takes any action that comes in direct conflict with the interests and values of the United States."

The Obama administration has argued that more settlements impede the chances of a two-state solution.

“I will be a strong voice for American principles and American interests, even if that is not what other UN representatives want to hear," Haley added. "The time has come for American strength once again.

"I will not go to New York and abstain when the UN seeks to create an international environment that encourages boycotts of Israel," Haley said. "In fact, I pledge to you this: I will never abstain when the United Nations takes any action that comes in direct conflict with the interests and values of the United States.""We contribute 22 percent of the UN’s budget, far more than any other country. We are a generous nation,” Haley’s said. “But we must ask ourselves what good is being accomplished by this disproportionate contribution. Are we getting what we pay for?”

During the early rounds of questions at her confirmation hearing, Haley told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee much of what they wanted to hear.

She made it clear she did not support a registry of US citizens based on religion despite President-elect Donald Trump's campaign pledge to create a registry of Muslims."This administration and I do not believe there should be any registry based on religion," Haley said. In her prepared remarks, Haley vowed to be “a strong voice for American principles and American interests, even if that is not what other UN representatives want to hear. The time has come for American strength once again.”

"I will not go to New York and abstain when the UN seeks to create an international environment that encourages boycotts of Israel," Haley said. "In fact, I pledge to you this: I will never abstain when the United Nations takes any action that comes in direct conflict with the interests and values of the United States."Haley also outlined a forceful policy for countering Russian aggression, becoming the latest Trump Cabinet pick to take a more confrontational approach to Russia than he has personally recommended."I don't think we can trust them," Haley said of Russian leaders.

"Russia is trying to show their muscle right now, that's what they do."Haley said she believes Russia committed war crimes in Syria when it indiscriminately bombed hospitals in Aleppo."We need to let them know we are not OK with what happened in Ukraine, in Crimea and what is happening in Syria, but we’re also gonna tell them that we do need their help with ISIS and with some other threats that we all share," she exclaimed.Trump has said better relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin would be an asset to his presidency. He has repeatedly doubted the intelligence community's assessment that Russia hacked the 2016 presidential election.