Prosecutors describe the news as a "routine pre-trial move"...

Seven of the 21 charges against embattled R&B star R KELLY have been dropped ahead of his trial.

In what prosecutors in Chicago describe as a “routine pre-trial move”, they have dropped a number of charges that involve soliciting a minor to appear in child pornography, reports Billboard.

Kelly was arrested in June 2002 after videotape surfaced allegedly showing him having sex with an underage girl. A spokesperson for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office said: “It’s a matter of course in cases like this that we’d drop charges right before trial.”

Kelly still faces 14 counts of child pornography, which he denies. Kelly’s representatives called the move “the first official acknowledgement of the weakness of their case”.

While no trial date has been set, the next hearing takes place on April 2.