King and Queen of Lesotho arrive in Cork at start of official visit to Ireland

His Majesty King Letsie III of Lesotho arrived in Cork today for the start of a three-day official visit to Ireland. During his visit, the King, who is accompanied by Her Majesty Queen Masenate Mohato Seesion, will meet with President Higgins, members of the Government, NGOs and business leaders (an outline of the programme is appended).

Following their arrival in Cork this morning, the royal couple will travel to Kildare where they will tour the Newbridge Silver Factory and Museum.

Tomorrow, President Higgins and Mrs. Sabina Higgins, will host a lunch for the King and Queen at Áras an Uachtaráin. The King and Queen will also visit Portmarnock Community School in Dublin and tour the headquarters fo Country Crest and Eirgrid in Dublin. Their visit will conclude on Tuesday with a visit to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.

The Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello T.D., will be meeting King Letsie III tomorrow afternoon and will discuss Ireland’s development partnership with Lesotho and efforts to build greater trade links between the two countries. Ireland has a long-established development partnership with Lesotho, which is focused on improving access to education and treatment for HIV and AIDS.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Minister Costello said:

“Ireland and Lesotho have built strong connections over the last century. I am proud of the contribution made there by our missionaries, development workers and business people.

Our development assistance to Lesotho is focused on the most vulnerable communities. Ireland has contributed to a substantial increase in the number of children attending school and supported thousands of poor people in the most remote areas to access treatment for HIV and AIDS.

I am determined to maintain our commitment to development cooperation, but also to build our economic and trade links. Ireland recognises the great potential of Lesotho, where the annual economic growth rate is now between 5% and 6%.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Africa Strategy sets out how Ireland is engaging more coherently with Africa, – economically, politically and through our aid programme.”

Minister Costello will host a dinner for King Letsie III and Queen Masenate Mohato Seeiso in Iveagh House following their meeting tomorrow.

Source: Ireland – Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Press Release – 21 May 2012