If Lebanon needs financial aid, France will be there: Finance Minister Le Maire

France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he discussed the situation in Lebanon with the United Arab Emirates leadership. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 February 2020

If Lebanon needs financial aid, France will be there: Finance Minister Le Maire

  • Le Maire said France is looking at options to support Lebanon recover from its financial crisis
  • IMF discussed all possible options in recent meetings with Lebanese officials

RIYADH: France is ready to support Lebanon financially — bilaterally or multilaterally — its finance minister said on Sunday, warning against mixing economic recovery in the small Mediterranean state with US-led efforts to counter Iran in the region.
“France always stands ready to help Lebanon. It has always been the case in the past and it will be the case in the future...” Bruno Le Maire told Reuters at the end of a meeting of finance officials from the Group of 20 (G20) major economies.
“If there is any help required from Lebanon, France will be there.”
Le Maire said in Abu Dhabi on Monday that France is looking at options to support Lebanon recover from its financial crisis, including through an International Monetary Fund program if Beirut seeks one.
He also told reporters he discussed the situation in Lebanon with the United Arab Emirates leadership.
Lebanon’s long-brewing economic crisis spiralled last year as the country’s capital inflows slowed and protests erupted against the ruling elite.
As the crisis deepens, hitting ordinary Lebanese hard, there is no sign of foreign aid. Western and Gulf Arab states that helped in the past have made clear that any support hinges on Beirut implementing long-delayed reforms to address root causes such as state corruption and bad governance.
Saudi Arabia’s finance minister said on Sunday the Kingdom was in contact with allies and international bodies to coordinate any support for Lebanon on the basis of economic reforms proposed by Beirut.
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Reuters in an interview that Washington was keeping a close eye on the situation. “It’s something we’re monitoring – both the political and economic issues there,” he said. “Our interest is in the people of Lebanon. We want there to be safe environment where they can succeed economically and live as they want to.”
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team has discussed all possible options in recent meetings with Lebanese officials, who are seeking technical advice for tackling the crisis as Beirut mulls a plan for dealing with fast-approaching debt payments.
Le Maire said decisions by Lebanon’s government were urgently needed to improve the situation on the ground. “We want to move in the official fora and we think that the IMF might have a role to play at one stage, but it’s up to the Lebanese government to decide,” he said. “But if there is any need for help, either bilateral or multilateral, we stand ready to help.”
Since protests erupted in October, Lebanon’s currency has slumped by roughly 60% on a parallel market, dollars have become scarce, prices have been hiked and thousands of jobs have been shed.
Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s government took office last month with the backing of Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite group, and its allies, as Washington presses its policy of “maximum pressure” against Iran with wide-ranging sanctions.
“We know that there are ties between the two issues but we don’t want to mix the issue of economic recovery in Lebanon, which is today the clear emergency, and the question of Iran,” Le Maire added.


Yoga can help corona patients breathe easy, says Egyptian expert

Updated 8 min 46 sec ago

Yoga can help corona patients breathe easy, says Egyptian expert

  • "Yoga can actually help to avoid injury and to stay stable in every position"

CAIRO: It is well documented that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can have severe effects on the respiratory system, causing difficulty in breathing as well as chest pains.

With no specific cure discovered yet, it has been suggested that yoga techniques can help breathe easy.

According to yoga experts, breathing is the most important part of yoga.

“When it comes to a productive yoga routine, settling your mind, relaxing, centering yourself, and breathing are the most important steps to master," Egyptian yoga instructor Rana Moustafa told Arab News.

Pharmacologist Louis J. Ignarro, Nobel Prize winner in Physiology in 1998, and Professor of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology in the University of California, Los Angeles, wrote an article recently explaining how breathing properly can help to fight COVID-19

"Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. It’s not just something you do in yoga class; breathing this way actually provides a powerful medical benefit that can help the body fight viral infections.

"The reason is that your nasal cavities produce the molecule, nitric oxide, which chemists abbreviate as NO. It increases blood flow through the lungs and boosts oxygen levels in the blood. Breathing in through the nose delivers NO directly into the lungs where it helps fight coronavirus infection by blocking the replication of virus in the lungs. The higher oxygen saturation of the blood can make one feel more refreshed and provide greater endurance," he wrote.

Rana explained that deep breathing "lowers stress levels by decreasing heart rate. When you breathe correctly, it redirects the flow of energy within your body, and also boosts your immunity, and improves both lung function and respiratory endurance."

"The things that happen when you are stressed, such as increasing heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax the whole body," the Egyptian yoga instructor emphasized.

"The most beautiful thing about yoga is that it’s available to anyone and everyone. Yoga is for any age and fitness level. The poses can be easily modified for different skill levels or if someone has an injury or condition. Not only that, but there are several types of yoga to choose from," said Rana.

"Yoga can actually help to avoid injury and to stay stable in every position."