ANKARA, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Turkey has pledged to maintain direct budget support this year for war-ravaged Somalia, contradicting an earlier report that it had cut off the assistance to the east African country.
Turkish and Somali government officials told Reuters last week the financial support had stopped at the end of 2013 and that there were no immediate plans to resume it.
The Turkish foreign ministry said late on Sunday that Ankara planned to continue the aid payments, which are a major source of funding for Somalia's government as it struggles to rebuild the country after more than two decades of chaos.
"Within the framework of our comprehensive aid strategy to Somalia, work is underway to provide budget support to the Somali Federal Government in the year 2014, too," the ministry said in a statement.
Turkey is a key ally of the Somali government. Its vast humanitarian aid effort at the height of the 2011 famine endeared the country to many Somali people, especially as Ankara continues to build hospitals and dispatch aid across Somalia.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has taken a personal interest in Somalia, becoming the first non-African leader to visit in nearly 20 years when he travelled there in 2011. Since then Turkey has poured in aid, much of it from private companies.
It is not clear how much cash Turkey donated in 2013 to Somalia, when the government budget totalled $110 million.
Somalia's former central bank chief Abdusalam Omer said during his seven-month tenure the support amounted to $4.5 million per month, paid in cash to the central bank.
"Our government will continue operating in Somalia and standing next to the Somali people," the Turkish ministry said.
(Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Nick Tattersall; Editing by Gareth Jones)
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