Biden meets parents of missing US journalist Austin Tice
Washington, May 03: US President Joe Biden on Tuesday met with the parents of an American reporter, who has been held hostage in Syria for nearly a decade.
Biden assured parents of Austin Tice, a photojournalist who disappeared in Syria in 2012, that he would work "relentlessly" to ensure he was safely back home.
"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," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
Psaki said the administration had gotten in touch with the Tice family after Biden paid tribute to detained journalists all over the world during his remarks at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
She said the meeting on Monday was the result of "multiple meetings between the Tice family and the President's national security team."
Biden's request to meet the Tice family
"We honor journalists killed, missing, imprisoned, detained, and tortured; covering war, exposing corruption, and holding leaders accountable," Biden said at the White House Correspondents' Dinner on Saturday.
He mentioned he would like to meet the Tice family to speak about their son.
"And although it's not in Ukraine, it's [Syria] - Mom, I'd like to meet you and Dad to talk about your son," Biden said.
"After the president made those comments, obviously we went into action to work to set up the meeting," Psaki said Monday.
She stressed the White House has "been very closely engaged with the family."
Tice was last seen in a video clip in 2012
Tice, a freelance photojournalist from Houston, Texas, disappeared at a checkpoint in a contested area near the Syrian capital of Damascus in 2012.
Tice was 31 at the time. He was also a former Marine.
His work as a journalist had been published by several newspapers, including the Washington Post.
Tice was last seen in a short video clip that was released several weeks after he disappeared.
He was blindfolded in the video and the armed men around him forced him to repeat prayers that Muslims traditionally say before dying.
A frightened Tice said "Oh Jesus" after that. The video ends with him unhurt, and he has not been heard ever since.
The Syrian government has never acknowledged holding him captive.