A respected Lebanese newspaper reported Wednesday that some of the foreign hostages held in Lebanon will be released for Easter.

"Diplomatic sources expect the release of some foreign hostages on the occasion of Easter," An-Nahar said.Such briefs - An-Nahar's was only 12 words in Arabic - run daily, and they are among the most widely read items in the newspaper.

The newspaper did not specify whether it referred to the Western Easter this Sunday or the Orthodox Easter on April 7. But Lebanese of-ten celebrate the whole week in between.

It was the respected daily's first report on the 13 Westerners missing in Lebanon since a visit to Syria by Secretary of State James A. Baker III increased optimism in the United States that a hostage release might be imminent.

After Baker's talks in Damascus, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa promised that his country would exert "maximum effort" to help win the hostages' release.

"We have the feeling that the hostage issue has to be resolved," al-Sharaa said.