KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government has expressed appreciation to the United States (US) for their assistance to Malaysia and Sabah in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Minister Datuk Hajiji Noor said he conveyed his gratitude to US Ambassador to Malaysia Brian D. Mcfeeters via a video call yesterday adding that the Sabah government and the US government have always maintained good bilateral relations.

"US has donated one million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to Malaysia and has pledged additional related assistance to the Malaysian Red Crescent. We are thankful for all assistance rendered by the US to Malaysia and Sabah in the field of education, nature conservation, and, most recently, in the fight against COVID-19.

"The aid will further speed up our efforts in coping with the challenges posed by the pandemic," he said in a statement today.

Hajiji also welcomed the ambassador's pledge of USD1 million for Sabah's wildlife conservation efforts to complement the state's ongoing wildlife protection programme.

Mcfeeters also offered mutual cooperation in forest conservation, pointing to the Heart of Borneo (HoB) programme, a transboundary conservation initiative extending into Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia.

According to the statement, Hajiji and Mcfeeters spoke on a wide range of issues including the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), human trafficking, illegal immigrants, and the US Embassy's longstanding cooperation with Universiti Malaysia Sabah on counter terrorism and violent extremism.

Mcfeeters, who took office as US Ambassador to Malaysia in February this year, said he looks forward to visiting Sabah, a destination well known to many Americans for its natural attractions and the iconic Mount Kinabalu.