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Serbia Expels Malaysian Envoy After Kosovo Recognition

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) -- Malaysia's ambassador to Serbia has been asked to leave the country after the Southeast Asian country recognized Kosovo as an independent state, a Malaysian Foreign Ministry spokesman has said.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February, nine years after a NATO bombing campaign halted the killings of civilians.

The spokesman said Ambassador Saw Ching Hong was told on October 31 to leave Serbia within 48 hours.

The move came after Malaysia recognized Kosovo as an independent and sovereign state and said it would establish diplomatic relations at an appropriate time.

In a statement issued on November 1, Malaysian Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said the recognition "by Malaysia will help fulfill the aspirations of the people of Kosovo for an independent state."

Kosovo has been recognized by more than 50 countries, many of them European states.