BEIRUT, JUNE 3 -- Iran has set up a top-level committee to propose deals for the release of foreign hostages held in Lebanon, the editor of Beirut's Ash Shiraa magazine, Hassan Sabra, said today.

Sabra said Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini wanted total control over any such deals, which probably would involve the sale of arms to Iran and the release of frozen Iranian assets.

"Khomeini is the only man who can judge the proposals. If he accepts them, the release of the hostages would become imminent through a deal between Iran and the countries concerned," Sabra said.

Khomeini set no deadline for any deal, Sabra added. He said Ash Shiraa would publish the story Monday. The radical weekly broke the news last November of U.S. arms sales to Iran to help bring about the release of American hostages.

At present 28 foreigners are believed to be held hostage in Lebanon. Some are thought to be held by pro-Iranian Shiite Moslem radicals and at least two groups have set pro-Iranian demands for the release of hostages.

Sabra said the committee would group five of the most powerful men in Iran -- parliamentary Speaker Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, President Ali Khamenei, Khomeini's son Ahmad, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards' corps commander, Mohsen Rezai, and their minister, Mohsen Rafiq Dust.

The committee would "exert pressure on their friends in Lebanon {the kidnapers} in return for certain deals such as arms and frozen {Iranian} assets," Sabra said. He said Khomeini had formed the committee because he believed too many people were interfering in the hostage issue.

Iran has said it would act as courier for messages about hostages but has never acknowledged any direct role. French hostages were released last year after France repaid more than $300 million of a debt owed to Iran.