KOTA KINABALU: United States ambassador to Malaysia Brian McFeeters visited Sabah to renew the country's commitment and long-term partnership with Sabah, with emphasis on environment and climate change issues.
McFeeters said the two issues were the top priority of US President Joe Biden's administration.
"We have talked to government officials and the state Forestry Department on their forest conservation plans in Sabah.
"And we are happy to hear the amount of protected forest areas has increased, which is good news for Malaysia, Sabah and the world," he said during a media roundtable session at a hotel here today.
He said the US had done a lot of work on conservation and had the legislation to help preserve the environment as Sabah is one of the few mega diversity areas in the world.
He said the US also had research programmes to support the scientists in Sabah looking for the possibility of new biothreats caused by changes in the environment.
On the reopening of Malaysia's international borders beginning April 1, he said the US was eager for the borders to reopen especially to their companies and potential investments.
"We spent a lot of time talking to US companies that had invested in Malaysia as the US is second largest iinvestor in Malaysia.
"We have a lot companies here and they are eager for the borders to reopen because they want to send Malaysians to the US for training and also send people here to evaluate new projects.
"On the embassy's side we have a large number of senior officials from across the government and senators who would like to visit Malaysia," he said.
On his personal experience, he said Sabah was beautiful but he only got a small taste of it while visiting the islands near the state capital.
"I think any American who finds out about Sabah would be eager to come here. Many people have been impatient and they want to go out, including visiting Sabah," he said.
During the visit, McFeeters also met with the Sabah chapter of the Platform, a coalition of 75 civil society organisations (CSO) in Malaysia, to discuss issues on environmental protection, voting rights, and the protection of the stateless community and migrant workers.
He also met Sabah Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun to discuss the state's continued response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
McFeeters also expressed his appreciation to Kota Kinabalu Mayor Datuk Noorliza Awang for the city's continuous support for the embassy's outreach programmes in Sabah, from the city's relationship with Portland, Oregon, to musical concerts, and public awareness programmes on waste management.
He also had a roundtable engagement with zoonotic disease experts in Sabah to combat the potential emergence of zoonotic diseases in the state.
During a meeting with the Sabah Youth Council, McFeeters learnt about their work and the issues of young people and he also met with Sabahan alumni of the US government's exchange programme.
McFeeters and his embassy team comprising 12 people visited Sabah from March 9-11.