March 18, 2008 / 6:42 PM / in 11 years

Canada to recognize Kosovo; Serb envoy to leave

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada will formally recognize the breakaway ethnic republic of Kosovo later on Tuesday and the Serb ambassador will return temporarily to Belgrade for consultations, the Serb embassy in Ottawa said.

Kosovo, which has a predominantly Albanian population, declared unilateral independence from Serbia last month.

Canada — which faces a separatist threat in the French-speaking province of Quebec — made clear it would take time before deciding whether to recognize Kosovo as a country.

“The information that the ambassador has received is that Canada will formally recognize Kosovo today at 3 p.m. (1900 GMT),” an embassy official told Reuters.

“The ambassador is going to be withdrawn for consultations within 48 hours,” the official added, saying the envoy’s absence would be temporary.

A spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier declined to comment.

Political and diplomatic experts said last month Canada was likely to recognize Kosovo while making clear Ottawa did not feel this set a precedent for Quebec.

The United States, France, Germany and the UK have already recognized Kosovo while Russia is firmly opposed to the idea.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Bernadette Baum

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