Lesotho, UK solidify ties

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Lesotho, UK solidify ties
Lesotho, UK solidify ties

Africa-PressLesotho. The Minister for Africa at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Hon. Vicky Ford has pledged the United Kingdom (UK)’s continued support to Lesotho.

This she said at the official reopening of the British High Commission office in Maseru on Thursday last week. “The UK will continue to support this work, including through the partnership between the Lesotho

Parliament and the UK’s Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and through assistance to the Lesotho Defence Force in support of security sector reform,”

the Minister said. The UK had in 2005 closed its High Commission and Lesotho forcing the British interests in Lesotho represented by the Pretoria High Commissioner in South Africa.

She said this follows the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting where now the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, who was then the Foreign Secretary promised to re-open a

resident High Commission in Lesotho. The High Commission has been in the country since 2019 and had been operating since January last year. “Together, we are

fighting the pandemic, tackling climate change, boosting trade, promoting inclusion and supporting reforms,” Hon Ford said. “I wanted to also celebrate our new Economic Partnership Agreement with Lesotho and its

neighbours, and to thank the Government of Lesotho…. The agreement guarantees that traders from Lesotho have duty-free and quota-free access to the UK

market, helping to boost trade across African borders at the same time. Trade will be an essential element of our recovery from the pandemic, and we are

supporting businesses across the Southern African region to maximise their potential when it comes to exports. “Our Trade Forward Southern Africa programme is increasing access to information; supporting compliance

with market standards; providing training on customs procedures; and promoting equality for women in trade,” she said. Hon. Ford also said the High Commission has joined forces with the Ministry of Health and community

organisations to support outreach and education in remote and rural areas adding that these initiatives include encouraging the COVID-19 vaccination programme.

The Minister for Africa at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office added that: “Earlier this year, a British team of medics spent six weeks working with counterparts in

Lesotho. They worked in isolation wards and helped with specialised training for doctors and nurses. The team also worked with hospital staff on infection prevention and control and hosted

community education sessions with schools, police and religious leaders. “From this week, the UK team is again working with counterparts in Lesotho – this time remotely – to

share technical support and training and medical expertise. ” Taking stock of the climate change issues, she noted that Lesotho’s contribution is little on

global warming and it is not spared of its effects nonetheless. She also talked about the UK’s continued sponsorship of climate finance and said they have committed to

double their funding by 2025 to the north of £11 billion which is approximately M223 billion. Hon Ford also commended the country for the progress made on the

ongoing National Reforms Process. For his part, the Prime Minister (PM) Dr Moeketsi Majoro applauded the move saying it is a “significant achievement, which will be beneficial to both our two countries and their

nations”. “We are happily gathered here to witness this important milestone, marking another chapter in the development of the United Kingdom’s engagement in the kingdom of Lesotho, which

is the long-awaited official opening of the British High Commission in the Mountain Kingdom. Today’s joyful ceremony, which comes few months after the

flag-raising event, is a clear testimony to the significance of the warm and vibrant cordial diplomatic relations that exist between our two Kingdoms,” he

said. The Premier also pointed that the two nations, following the formation of the diplomatic relations, have been sharing similar interests from major global issues, world peace and

security, democracy, human rights to international development and cooperation. “From these early contacts, our relations have blossomed steadily. We, therefore, welcome with

profound gratitude and satisfaction, the decision by the British Government to reopen the British High Commission here in Maseru after a lapse of fifteen (15)

years. “Let us once again recommit ourselves to the urgent need to tackle the challenges which confront our two countries. Some of these challenges are climate change and Covid-19.

To this end, we are deeply grateful for the magnanimous contribution and support rendered to Lesotho by the U. K. government, by displaying your unwavering

support towards our vaccine rollout through the Covax facility,” Dr Majoro said pledging the government’s support to the British High Commissioner Anne Macro.

Lesotho relations with the British date back from far. She was previously the British protectorate in 1868 before attaining independence in 1966 where she established diplomatic

relations with Britain on that same year. Some of the areas in which the UK works with Lesotho are the army, the support by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the

education programmes which see Basotho studying in that country. Also on the same occasion, four Basotho students who are recipients of Chevening Scholarships were awarded certificates following completion of their postgraduate studies in the UK.

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