Senior U.S. Official Visits the Kingdom of Lesotho

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southern Africa and Public Diplomacy Todd Haskell visited Lesotho June 7-9, 2016. During his visit he met with Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tlohang Sekhamane, with whom he discussed the current political environment, the SADC Commission of Inquiry recommendations, and the annual eligibility review for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). He also met with representatives of the opposition, the diplomatic community, and civil society.

During his visit Mr. Haskell toured the Maseru Seventh Day Adventist health center, renovated by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and supported through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). This health center has implemented the Ministry of Health’s new “Test and Treat” policy which has already increased the number of HIV positive patients newly enrolled by the clinic on life-saving anti-retroviral therapy (ART).

He also participated in the launch of the newly renovated American Corner at the State Library, which is a partnership between the United States Government and the Ministry of Tourism, Environment, and Culture to promote mutual understanding between our two countries. The American Corner provides access to information, resources, innovative cultural programming, and professional development opportunities free of charge for young Basotho.

Another highlight of Mr. Haskell’s visit was meeting the fifteen young Basotho leaders who will participate in the 2016 Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Mandela Washington Fellowship. From them he heard about their hopes for their time in the United States and their plans to use the experience to benefit their communities and their country when they return.

Describing the objectives of his visit Mr. Haskell said, “My visit here is a chance to highlight key areas of collaboration that have formed an important part of our 50 year partnership with Lesotho –programs such as PEPFAR, the American Corner and exchange programs such as YALI. I am also here, as a friend of Lesotho and the Basotho people, to share USG concerns over accountability and rule of law issues which may affect Lesotho’s eligibility for certain programs such as MCC and trade benefits under AGOA. We have strongly supported SADC’s engagement in helping Lesotho address these challenges and agree with SADC that implementation of the Commission of Inquiry recommendations would put Lesotho on a positive path forward.”

Todd Haskell became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Southern Africa and Public Diplomacy in August 2015. Previously, he was Director of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs, directing the deployment of public diplomacy personnel and resources at 48 U.S. embassies and consulates in sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to coming to Washington, he served as the Public Affairs Counselor in the Dominican Republic 2010-2013, as Public Affairs Officer in Johannesburg, South Africa 2006-2010, and in Burkina Faso 2003-2006. His other overseas assignments include Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Israel, and Mexico. He has also served as an observer on the Multinational Force and Observers in the Sinai, Egypt, and as intelligence analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research in the Department of State.