CAIRO, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Egypt promised on Wednesday to pay $1.5 billion of the $6 billion it says it owes foreign oil companies, aiming to restore investor confidence in an economy damaged by nearly three years of political turmoil.
Officials speaking at an investment conference pitched at Gulf Arab states and businessmen tried to allay concerns ranging from legal uncertainty to the foreign currency black market.
"There is approval to pay $1.5 billion," Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi told the gathering. He said the arrears had discouraged investment in the critical energy sector.
Gulf oil-producers rallied behind Egypt after the army ousted Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July, pledging billions of dollar in financial support. Saudi Arabia and most other Gulf states deeply distrust Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood.
Finance Minister Ahmed Galal told the conference the central bank would supply the dollars to reimburse the oil companies and Oil Minister Sherif Ismail said this would happen within days.
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