KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and the United States value their long-standing bilateral ties and will continue working together on economic prosperity and security, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He said this during a luncheon hosted in honour of US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi here. Pelosi and her congressional delegation arrived in Malaysia yesterday as part of the official visit to four Asian countries.

In his welcoming remarks, Ismail Sabri pointed out that both sides enjoyed good relations in all fields, including economy, investment, health and defence, reported Bernama.

He added the partnership was further strengthened and went a notch higher through the Asean-US Special Summit held in Washington DC from May 12 to 13, which also bought Asean closer to the United States.

The partnership also strengthened through vaccine diplomacy cooperation, where the United States has donated one million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines to Malaysia to help the country’s fight against the pandemic.

In defence relations, the United States has extended assistance, including a grant assistance worth US$200mil (RM890mil), he said.

“Malaysia and the United States enjoy good relations and remain important partners in all fields. In economy, the United States is the biggest investor in the country,” he said at the luncheon.

Ismail Sabri thanked Pelosi for her maiden visit to Malaysia in an effort to boost bilateral ties between both nations.

Pelosi said she and her high-powered delegation were willing to learn more from Malaysia and collaborate closely in terms of security and economic prosperity.

“Malaysia is very important. We’ve had over 60 years of relationship between the United States and Malaysia. We value that relationship,” she added.

Kuala Lumpur is Pelosi’s second stop after Singapore on Monday and according to reports, the Speaker was supposed to head to South Korea and Japan.

Late last night, there was breaking news that Pelosi’s plane instead landed in Taipei amid the high tensions with China.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan marks the first time a US House Speaker had visited the country in 25 years.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry had warned that in the event of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Beijing will take decisive measures to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and the United States will be fully responsible for all the consequences resulting from the visit.

Meanwhile, the United States is currently Malaysia’s third largest global trade partner and export destination, while Malaysia is its 17th largest trade partner.

Despite the challenging global economy and economic uncertainties following the outbreak of Covid-19, total trade between the two countries increased by 21.4% year-on-year to RM217.10bil (US$52.37bil) last year.

Earlier, Pelosi paid a courtesy call on Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Azhar Azizan Harun at the Parliament building.

At a press conference, Azhar said among the issues discussed during Pelosi’s visit to the Malaysian Parliament – a first for a US House Speaker – were her country’s views on Malaysian palm oil and the human trafficking report by the US State Department.

Azhar described his talks with Pelosi as fruitful with both sides agreeing to strengthen ties through future engagements.

“I told her that Malaysia has nothing to hide from the accusations levelled against our country on palm oil,” he said.

He added that he had also informed Pelosi that a report was tabled in Dewan Rakyat on the US State Department’s recent assessment of Malaysia on human trafficking.

Another issue that was brought up was Malaysia’s efforts to fulfil the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) safety rating following a downgrade from Category One to Two in November 2019.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong informed Parliament that the nation was on track to fulfil FAA’s findings, with an announcement to be made by the US aviation authorities later this month.