Friday, May 3, 2013

British PM invites Uhuru for visit

President Uhuru Kenyatta meets British High Commissioner to Kenya Dr. Christian Turner at State House, Nairobi on April 30, 2013. President Kenyatta is expected to visit London at Britain's invitation next week for a conference on Somalia. Photo/FILE

President Uhuru Kenyatta meets British High Commissioner to Kenya Dr. Christian Turner at State House, Nairobi on April 30, 2013. President Kenyatta is expected to visit London at Britain's invitation next week for a conference on Somalia. Photo/FILE  NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ISAAC ONGIRI [email protected]

President Uhuru Kenyatta has accepted British Prime Minister David Cameron’s invitation to London.

This will be the president’s first visit to Europe since he won the March 4 general election.

The invitation is the first open diplomatic attempt to engage the new Kenyan President previously seen as being shunned by the West due to the ICC charges facing him and his Deputy William Ruto in The Hague.

Mr Kenyatta is expected to join other world leaders for this year’s London conference on Somalia set to start on Tuesday.

The high profile invitation of Mr Kenyatta is expected to effectively deal with doubt over the relationship between the West and Kenya over its election of two ICC suspects.

Friday, the British High Commission confirmed that Mr Kenyatta had been invited to London where he will also hold bilateral talks with Mr Cameron.

“It is true that the Kenyan President has been invited to London. He will be attending an International Conference on Somali organised jointly by the British and the Somali governments,” said Mr John Bradshaw, the head of communication at the High Commission in Nairobi.

He said Mr Cameron’s invitation was delivered to Mr Kenyatta last week by the British High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner.

Kenya and Britain, although in a sound diplomatic relationship, have suffered cooled off trade engagements after the previous regime started courting the East, especially China.

“Kenya plays a vital role on Somalia, having nearly 5,000 troops in Somalia, and hosting more Somali refugees than any other nation,” Mr Bradshaw said.

Although it is unclear whether Mr Kenyatta will be honoured at Number 10 Downing Street where the British Prime Minister meets distinguished guests, Mr Bradshaw said arrangements for everything else in the tour were still being firmed up.

Friday, the director of the Presidential Press Service Isaya Kabira confirmed that Mr Kenyatta had accepted the invitation and would be in London next week.

“He will be travelling to London on Sunday to attend the event which is mainly about the London Somali conference,” he said.

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