A newspaper said Tuesday the release of foreign hostages in Lebanon has been delayed by Israel's failure to free a Shiite Muslim cleric and by questions about the fate of four missing Iranians.

The newspaper, Ad-Diyar, said the continued detention of Israeli soldiers missing in Lebanon also was stalling talks concerning the Western hostages."Negotiations which had originally achieved major progress toward an early settlement for this issue, recently faced new conditions," the newspaper said.

On Wednesday, Ad-Diyar - which has not been accurate in past reports about the hostages - said the 13 Westerners were to be released last weekend. Tuesday's report was the second carried by the newspaper backing off that story. On Saturday Ad-Diyar said the negotiations had "stumbled."

Ad-Diyar did not name the parties involved in negotiations. Most of the Western hostages are believed held by pro-Iranian Shiite Muslim groups.