President Biden met with the parents of American journalist and Marine Corps veteran Austin Tice on Monday to reiterate his commitment to securing Austin’s “long overdue return to his family,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday evening.
Why it matters: Tice was abducted in Syria in 2012 and is one of the longest-held and most high-profile American hostages.
While the U.S. believes the Syrian government is responsible for Tice’s fate, the regime of Bashar al-Assad has never acknowledged holding him.What they’re saying: “During their meeting, the President reiterated his commitment to continue to work through all available avenues to secure Austin’s long overdue return to his family,” Psaki said in a statement.
“The President further emphasized that his Administration will work relentlessly until Austin and other Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained worldwide are safely at home with their loved ones.”Biden’s national security team “will remain in regular contact with the Tices and other families of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad,” she noted. “We appreciate the bravery and candor of families enduring these harrowing experiences, and we remain committed to supporting them and, most importantly, reuniting them with their loved ones.”Catch up quick: Biden had told reporters earlier Monday that he would meet with Tice’s parents.
Psaki told reporters at a briefing Monday afternoon that the administration “went into action” on Sunday to try to set up a meeting with Tice’s parents.She added that members of the National Security Council have met in person several times with the Tice family over the past few months, including just last week.”Obviously meeting with the president is an additional, and more significant, step in that regard,” she added.The big picture: During a visit to Israel last month, State Department hostage envoy Roger Carstens met with Israel’s hostage team and asked them to assist with intelligence gathering and for new ideas on how to proceed with Tice’s case.
Efforts to bring Tice home have yielded no progress. This August will mark 10 years since his kidnapping, and the U.S. government has made no recent updates as to where in Syria he might be or whether he is known to be alive, writes Axios’ Barak Ravid.Debra Tice, Tice’s mother, told Axios in January that she believed the current moment presented the best opportunity in years to bring Austin home. “I do believe that the United States needs to take notice that things are quickly changing in the Middle East, and that Syria’s neighbors are very keen to have the conflict resolved. And getting Austin home would remove an obstacle for some of that progress,” she said.Editor’s note: This story was updated with new details following a statement from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Monday evening.
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