The mother of American journalist and former Marine Austin Tice said Thursday that President Biden appears “ready to engage with Syria” about her son’s potential release after ten years in captivity.
On Wednesday, Biden said in a statement that the US believes “with certainty” Tice is being held by the Syrian government.
“On the tenth anniversary of his abduction, I am calling on Syria to end this and help us bring him home,” Biden said. “There is no higher priority in my Administration than the recovery and return of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad.”
“The Tice family deserves answers, and more importantly, they deserve to be swiftly reunited with Austin,” the president added. ‘We stand with Austin’s many loved ones, and we will not rest until we bring Austin home. Ten years is far, far too long. So is every additional day.”
“I’m just so glad that President Biden has said Austin’s name publicly,” Debra Tice told CNN’s “New Day” Thursday. “I think that was the first time in that statement. And I think that it’s an indication from the president that the United States government is ready to engage with Syria to bring Austin home.”
Debra Tice added that Biden’s statement shows the administration understands there will need to be “engagement, negotiation, and concession” in order to bring her son and other Americans held abroad home.
“I think they’ve demonstrated the president is willing to make a hard decision and get that done,” she said, pointing to the prisoner swap made earlier this year for former Marine Trevor Reed, who was held by Russia.
In recent weeks, reports have emerged that the Biden administration is considering conducting another prisoner swap with Russia – trading convicted arms dealer Victor Bout for WNBA star Brittney Griner and another former Marine, Paul Whelan.
Last Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov signaled that the Kremlin was ready to discuss a potential exchange, warning it must take place “within the framework of the channel that was agreed upon by presidents Putin and Biden.”
Lavrov was referring to a previous agreement between the two leaders regarding a private diplomatic channel that would be used to discuss possible prisoner swaps “no matter what anyone says publicly.”
“If the Americans decide to once again resort to public diplomacy … that is their business and I would even say that it is their problem,” Lavrov added.
Sunday marks 10 years since Tice was kidnapped while covering Syria’s long-running civil war.
In May, his parents spoke with Biden to discuss his case in a meeting that left the couple appearing hopeful.
“I left the meeting thinking those were hugely uplifting words. I can hardly wait to see some action,” Debra Tice said at the time. “We’ve had lots and lots of words in the past nine years and almost nine months. We need action.”