President Joe Biden will meet with the parents of Austin Tice, an American journalist and Marine veteran abducted nearly 10 years ago in Syria.
Biden said Monday that he would meet Tice’s parents “today.” One of the longest-held American hostages, Tice was abducted near Damascus in 2012 while covering the Syrian war.
Biden attended the White House Correspondents' Association dinner on Saturday and spoke about journalists held captive. He said that he hoped to meet with Tice’s family, prompting the White House to arrange the sit-down.
“We went into action to work to set up the meeting on Sunday and see if … Debra and Marc Tice, Austin's parents, would be available,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
Austin's mother, Debra Tice, attended the event, where she was introduced in remarks by CBS News’s Steven Portnoy, the association’s president.
In January, Tice’s mother told Axios she hoped the case would be on the agenda when the emir of Qatar visited the White House. Qatar has helped broker the release of other American hostages in the past.
'SHE KNOWS PUTIN’S TACTICS': BIDEN NAMES BATTLE-TESTED AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE
She called the White House a “hurdle” to her son’s return during an event at the National Press Club in December last year and that she had been unable to meet with the president or his top aides.
That soon shifted. Psaki said on Monday the White House had been “very closely engaged” since national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with Tice’s parents in December, followed by subsequent meetings with other senior officials, including a meeting last week.
Biden’s top diplomat said last year that the administration believes “it is within Bashar al Assad’s power” to release Tice.
“We will continue to pursue all avenues to bring Austin home,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the time. He said the Biden administration was “working diligently and around the clock” to achieve this.
Tice briefly escaped captivity but was recaptured, allegedly by the Syrian government, according to the New York Times.
Psaki on Monday declined to comment on Tice’s whereabouts.
The Trump administration pressed to free Tice while in office, leveraging personal entreaties and visits to Damascus by high-level officials, according to reports. A special intelligence-gathering cell was also set up. The efforts were unsuccessful.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
The Biden administration is working to free other U.S. hostages overseas. A former Marine detained for about three years in Russia, Trevor Reed, was returned to the United States last week during a prisoner swap.