Foreign relations of Lesotho

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Lesotho's geographic location makes it extremely vulnerable to political and economic developments in South Africa. Its capital is the small city of Maseru. It is a member of many regional economic organizations including the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU). Lesotho also is active in the United Nations, the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, and many other international organizations. In addition to the Republic of Korea the United States, South Africa, Ireland, People's Republic of China, Libya, and the European Union all currently retain resident diplomatic missions in Lesotho. Foreign relations of Lesotho are administered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Relations.

Lesotho has historically maintained generally close ties with Ireland (Lesotho's largest bi-lateral aid donor), the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and other Western states. Although Lesotho decided in 1990 to break relations with the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) and re-establish relations with the Republic of China (commonly known by its main island as Taiwan), it has since restored ties with the P.R.C.

Bilateral Relations



Lesotho has significant relations with Ireland. On 13 November 1997, its president Liz O'Donnell (Irish Minister for State) spoke about the relationship between the two nations and Ireland's future commitment towards Lesotho. The Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern visited Lesotho in 2000.[3] This relationship was further strengthened by a visit from the then President of Ireland Mary McAleese between 14 and 16 June 2006 on her speech about the long-standing relationship with Lesotho and shared history between both nations.[4]

The Irish Government has donated aid to Lesotho since 1975. Donations to Lesotho is Ireland's longest running aid programme.[5] On 14 February 2005, Lesotho announced that Ireland is the largest bilateral donor with financial support in excess of M70 million in each of the past three years.[6] Ireland also supports Lesotho's Flying Doctor Service, education, sanitation, water and various health such as the Fight against AIDS with the Clinton Foundation.[7]


Pakistan and Lesotho maintain trade links. Pakistan is also a leading trainer of Lesotho Defense Force. Both Countries maintain honorary consulates in each other's country.

South Africa

Sani Pass Border Post

Lesotho–South Africa relations

South Korea

Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Republic of Korea and Lesotho is December 7, 1966 and In 2011 Bilateral Trade were Exports $27,330,000, Imports: $290,000.[8]


Lesotho and Swaziland both have borders with South Africa.

United Kingdom

Lesotho was previously the British protectorate of Basutoland prior to gaining independence in 1966. Since then Lesotho has been a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and maintained strong relations with the United Kingdom, exchanging High Commissioners between respective governments. The United Kingdom has maintained its status as one of Lesotho's major defence equipment suppliers as well as significant investment coming from the United Kingdom to help in the prevention and management of AIDS/HIV as well as other infrastructure projects.

United States

The United States was one of the first four countries to establish an embassy in Maseru after Lesotho gained its independence from Great Britain in 1966. Since this time, Lesotho and the United States have consistently maintained warm bilateral relations. In 1996, the United States closed its bilateral aid program in Lesotho. The Southern African regional office of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Gaborone, Botswana now administers most of the U.S. assistance to Lesotho, which totalled approximately $2 million in FY 2004. Total U.S. aid to Lesotho is over $69 million, including humanitarian food assistance. The Peace Corps has operated in Lesotho since 1969.About 69 Peace Corps volunteers concentrate in the sectors of health, agriculture, education, rural community development, and the environment. The Government of Lesotho encourages greater American participation in commercial life and welcomes interest from potential U.S. investors and suppliers. In 2007, the Government of Lesotho signed a compact with the Millennium Challenge Corporation to provide $362.5 million in support to develop Lesotho's water sector, healthcare infrastructure, and private sector.

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of State website (Background Notes).

Lesotho and the Commonwealth of Nations

Lesotho, along with Brunei, Malaysia, Swaziland, and Tonga, is a Commonwealth member state with its own monarchy.


See also

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