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Sunday November 2, 2008

Serbia expels Malaysia’s envoy

KUALA LUMPUR: Serbia has ex­­pelled Malaysia’s ambassador following Kuala Lumpur’s decision to recognise the Republic of Kosovo as an independent and sovereign nation.

Ambassador Saw Ching Hong was given 48 hours to leave the country, AP quoted Serbia’s Foreign Ministry as saying.

This was in retaliation to Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim’s announcement earlier yesterday that Malaysia recognised Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence on Feb 17, and that diplomatic ties with Kosovo would be established at a suitable time.

“Malaysia’s recognition of the independence of Kosovo will help meet the aspirations of the Kosovo people in seeking to be an independent country,” said Dr Rais.

Dr Rais’ letter to his Kosovar counterpart Skender Hyseni to formally recognise its independence was delivered by the Malaysian Embassy in Belgrade on Thursday.

Malaysia is the 52nd UN member to recognise Kosovo’s independence. Others who have done so include the United States, Britain and France.

Kosovo’s declaration of independence was strongly opposed and declared illegal by Serbia.

Saw, who was posted to Serbia in 2004 as Malaysia’s first ambassador there following the re-establishment of diplomatic ties, is said to be on his way back to brief Wisma Putra on his expulsion.

A Wisma Putra official said the Malaysian mission in Belgrade would continue to operate.

“Besides Ambassador Saw, there are two other Malaysian diplomats based there,” he added.

Serbia has no diplomatic presence here.

Kosovo, with ethnic Albanians making up 90% of its two million population, severed ties with Serbia in February capping a struggle for statehood that began in 1999.

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