Lebanese Foreign Minister Fares Boueiz said Friday negotiations for the release of 12 Westerners held hostage by pro-Iranian fundamentalist groups are in the final stage with the captors "trying to get the best price for their release."

"The case of the Western hostages theoretically reached an end but became a subject for bargaining," Boueiz said during an interview at his residence in the Christian neighborhood of Ashrafiyeh."Their plight has taken a commercial aspect and negotiations now focused on monetary technicalities," the minister said. "The kidnappers are trying to get the best price for their release."