World

Egypt to settle $1.5B owed to oil firms

A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask gives the victory sign in front of a burning police vehicle set afire by protesters, near Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. Several hundred students and supporters of the country's ousted Islamist president joined to protest the death of Mohammed Reda, a student who was killed in clashes on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, near Cairo University.  (AP Photo/Mohammed Asad)

A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask gives the victory sign in front of a burning police vehicle set afire by protesters, near Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013. Several hundred students and supporters of the country's ousted Islamist president joined to protest the death of Mohammed Reda, a student who was killed in clashes on Thursday, Nov. 28, 2013, near Cairo University. (AP Photo/Mohammed Asad)  (The Associated Press)

Egypt's prime minister says his government has committed to pay what amounts to 24 percent of the total arrears it owes foreign oil companies in a bid to restore investor confidence in an economy damaged by nearly three years of unrest.

Hazem el-Beblawi was speaking Wednesday at an investors' forum that brought to Cairo businessmen and officials from the Gulf countries. El-Beblawi said his government approved settling $1.5 billion it owed to foreign oil firms. Petroleum ministry spokesman Hamdy Abdel-Aziz said the latest figure for money owed to oil companies stood at $6.2 billion.

El-Beblawi also urged investors to show patience with unrest-hit Egypt. He added that the government is on track to restore political and economic stability, and has realized a "milestone" by completing amendments to the country's constitution.