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.