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Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson arrives in Downing Street, London, March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

(reuters_tickers)

By Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - British foreign minister Boris Johnson met Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Wednesday, pledging aid to help combat the effects of a devastating drought, state radio reported on Wednesday.

The country has been mired in civil war for more than a quarter of a century, and this year around 6.2 million Somalis, around half the population, need aid after the drought withered crops, killed livestock and dried up waterholes in East Africa.

"Boris met Somalia’s president Mohamed and discussed strengthening ties with Somalia, doubling the support for Somali government, and aid assistance for the drought in Somalia," the website for state-run Radio Mogadishu said

The British High Commission did not respond to requests for comment.

Although it remains mired in violence and poverty, Somalia has shown some small signs of progress in recent years.

African Union peacekeepers have clawed back large swathes of territory from Islamist insurgents al Shabaab. New federal states have devolved power from the weak central government.

Last month, the president was elected in a political process which was heavily criticised for corruption but still resulted in a peaceful transfer of power.

But the drought is threatening to erase some of the fragile gains and tip the country into famine. At least 360,000 Somali children are severely malnourished, meaning they will die within weeks unless they receive food aid.

A 2011 famine in Somalia killed around 260,000 people.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; editing by Susan Thomas)

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