An Iranian mediator seeking to end 13 days of fighting between rival Shiite Moslem militias said Wednesday the problem of foreign hostages in Lebanon would be solved if the combat stopped.

Ali Mohammed Besharati, Iran's acting foreign minister, told reporters: "The case of kidnapping (of foreigners) in Lebanon is part of the crisis which Lebanon is passing through. I believe that if we could end the state of war currently prevailing, then definitely the other case would be solved too."He made the statement in response to reporters' questions after a meeting with Salim Hoss, Lebanon's acting prime minister. Besharati would not elaborate on the issue of the hostages, most of whom are believed held by extremists loyal to Iran.

Most of the 18 hostages, including nine Americans, are believed held in Beirut's southern slums, where fighting between the pro-Iranian Hezbollah, or Party of God, and the Syrian-backed Amal has raged since May 6.

Lebanese security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that during the meeting with Hoss, Besharati sought support for an Iranian proposal to end the militia battles.

One source said Besharati proposed a compromise agreement for partial deployment of the Syrian army in south Beirut to halt the bloodshed that has killed 243 people and wounded 762.

Local news media have reported that the hostages were moved since the fighting began.