Kenyan president Kenyatta to join Somalia talks in London

Kenyan president Kenyatta to join Somalia talks in London

Uhuru Kenyatta, who faces ICC charges of crimes against humanity, has been invited by UK to attend conference

Kenya's fourth president, Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenya’s fourth president, Uhuru Kenyatta, thanks well-wishers after being sworn in last month. Photograph: Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images

The 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 have only “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 the 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 5,000 troops to Somalia as part of a western-backed African force that has driven back al-Shabaab fighters.

The charges against Kenyatta relate to post-election violence five years ago.

The British spokesman said the invitation was extended because he had committed to co-operating with the court in The Hague.