The European Union (EU) has pledged €225m ($240m; £191m) in aid to The Gambia as part of its effort to become a "privileged partner" of the West African nation. The announcement came weeks after new President Adama Barrow returned to his country from Senegal following the peaceful end of a a post-election political crisis.

"The EU is fully committed to engage with President Barrow and his Government. We want to be a privileged partner of The New Gambia," the EU said in a statement.

"In addition to the €75 million package of immediate support signed today, we are already preparing a medium term package of €150 million, which will focus on building the capacities of the State and on job creation."

The EU had frozen its aids after Gambia's former leader Yahya Jammeh – accused of human rights abuses outlawed homosexuality in 2014.

Barrow and the EU commissioner for international cooperation and development, Neven Mimica, met in the capital Banjul.

"The visit is a clear signal of the EU's readiness to provide immediate financial and technical support to the democratic process in The Gambia," Mimica was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Following the meeting, Barrow said his country also needed emergency budget support to restore its crippled economy burdened by youth unemployment of more than 40%.

"What we have inherited is an economy that is virtually bankrupt and in need of immediate [restoration]," Barrow said.

Jammeh, who ruled the country for 22 years, lost presidential election in December 2016. However, Gambia witnessed a political stand-off when he refused to relinquish power.

The outgoing president eventually agreed to step down and go into exile in Equatorial Guinea following pressure from world leaders and the intervention of foreign troops.

Barrow, who returned to Banjul in January, said in an exclusive interview with IBTimes UK he was ready to rebuild a New Gambia through democratic principles.

The leader, a former businessman who lived in London for three years, pledged to strengthen relations between Gambia and the UK by, among other things, rejoining the Commonwealth and promoting foreign investments.

Barrow also intends to revert Jammeh's decision to pull out from the International Criminal Court (ICC).