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Kenyan Leader, Charged by ICC, Invited to Somalia Meeting in London

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta prepares to inspect a guard of honor before the opening of the 11th Parliament at the National Assembly Chamber in Nairobi, April 16, 2013.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court, is expected to visit London at Britain's invitation next week for a conference on Somalia.

It will be his first trip to a Western capital since his election in March. Britain and other countries said before his victory it would only have "essential contacts'' with him if he won because of the court case.

"Kenya is a vital partner on Somalia and we judge our contact according to the issue concerned,'' a spokesman for Britain's Foreign Office said.

A source close to the president and a diplomat both said Kenyatta was likely to travel to the meeting, which aims to build support for Somalia.

Kenya is an ally in the battle against Islamist militancy in the region and has sent about 5,000 troops to Somalia as part of a Western-backed African force that has driven back al Shabaab Islamist fighters.

The charges against Kenyatta at the International Criminal Court relate to post-election violence in Kenya five years ago. The British spokesman said the invitation was extended because he had committed to cooperating with the court in The Hague.