Donors pledge 1.8 billion euros for Somalia

European Union foreign policy chief Ashton and Somali's President Sheikh Mohamud talk to reporters ahead of a conference called New Deal in Somalia in Brussels
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Somali's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud talk to reporters ahead of a conference called "New Deal in Somalia" in Brussels September 16, 2013. REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - International donors promised Somalia 1.8 billion euros ($2.4 billion) in reconstruction aid on Monday to back a three-year plan aimed at strengthening the country's economy and building up its fragile security.

Somali leaders and about 50 international delegations met in Brussels to endorse the plan, which includes steps to boost output, foster political dialogue and improve day-to-day security after decades of debilitating civil war.

The 28-nation European Union, already the largest donor to the horn of Africa country, led the financial pledges, committing 650 million euros.

"I am glad to note that pledges today reached 1.8 billion euros, backing with financial means these new priorities and framework," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told the closing session of the conference.

Somalia plunged into two decades of civil war and lawlessness after the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991.

But donors have seen signs of stabilisation since the African Union's peacekeeping troops helped drive Islamist out of the capital Mogadishu and many other strongholds in central and southern Somalia.

The country of 10 million people is one of the poorest in the world, with per capita income of just $600 a year.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; editing by Luke Baker)