Cardinal John O'Connor said he canceled a visit to meet Moslem leaders in west Beirut because of a warning that he might be kidnapped and taken hostage.

At a news conference at Kennedy International Airport upon his return to the United States on Wednesday, the cardinal called his three-day visit to Lebanon a success because it focused attention on the fighting there.He called for a Vatican-sponsored peace conference, supported by the United States and other major powers, to end the fighting and said Pope John Paul II had agreed to support the idea.

O'Connor said he began receiving messages Saturday that "some very special circumstances" had developed, making it clear it would have been too dangerous for him to travel to west Beirut.

"I was finally convinced at that point that it would not be worth the risk, especially of being taken hostage," he said.

O'Connor said stories in Lebanese newspapers that Moslem leaders were angered by his decision to cancel the visit were inaccurate.

The cardinal said Selim Hoss, prime minister of the Moslem government of Lebanon, had agreed he made the right decision. The Moslem government is being challenged by a Christian cabinet.

O'Connor said he hoped the Bush administration would support a Vatican-sponsored peace conference, and said Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Hoss had reacted favorably to the idea.

O'Connor said his unsuccessful attempt to find out where the Western hostages are being held was one failure of the trip. He said people who had provided information in the past could tell him nothing about the hostages.