The head of Lebanon’s main intelligence service met with Biden administration officials in Washington this week to discuss reviving negotiations with the Syrian government in a bid to secure the release of journalist and former marine Austin Tice and other Americans.
Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens was among the U.S. officials who met with the Lebanese spy chief, the State Department said Wednesday, confirming that Tice’s case had been among those discussed but declining to provide further details.
Asked about the status of efforts to secure Tice’s release and his talks with U.S. officials, Major General Abbas Ibrahim told NBC News: “We’re working on it.”
Ibrahim also met with Austin’s Tice’s parents during his three day visit to Washington, he said, as well as with Diane Foley, mother of James Foley. President Joe Biden met with the Tice family earlier this month.
“[Tice] has spent a quarter of his life separated from his family,” State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said. “It is our goal to see Austin safely returned to his family so that you can once again give them a hug and can be with them for the first time in 10 years. That is what we’re working toward.”
Ibrahim has been part of several successful hostage mediations with the Syrian government, helping to secure the release of both U.S. citizen Samuel Goodwin and Canadian citizen Kristian Lee Baxter in 2019.
Carstens, who has held the position of Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs since March 2020, also met with Ibrahim as part of the Trump Administration’s endeavors to secure Tice’s release.
Carstens was one of two U.S. officials who made a secret visit to Syria that same year to hold high-level talks with the Assad government in the hopes of finding further information on Tice.