Malaysia backs Kosovo independence, angers Serbia

November 2, 2008

KUALA LUMPUR (AP) -- Malaysia on Saturday defended its recognition of Kosovo as an independent state — a move that caused Serbia to expel the Southeast Asian nation's ambassador.

Serbia's Foreign Ministry said late Friday that Malaysian envoy Saw Ching Hong had 48 hours to leave because his country had recognized Kosovo.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim insisted his government's decision was meant to ""help meet the aspirations of the Kosovo people in wanting an independent country.""
Kosovo, a former Serbian province, declared independence in February. About 50 countries, including the United States and European Union members, have recognized its independence.
However, Serbia refuses to recognize the split. It has asked for a UN court's opinion on whether the secession was legal.
Malaysia plans to establish diplomatic ties with Kosovo at a suitable time, Rais added in a statement issued Saturday through the national news agency Bernama.