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The White House faces constant pressure from more than 60 American families whose relatives are being held hostage abroad. That includes family members who are celebrating his 10th year apart from him this week.

Austin Theis has been missing in Syria since his August 2012, and holds the harrowing record of being held longer than any other American journalist. The Syrian government denies holding him. State Department spokesperson Ned Price disputed this.

"We have engaged extensively with the Syrian authorities to bring Austin home, including directly negotiating with them," he said. “But as I said at the time, Syria never admitted to holding him. We continue to believe that Syria now has an opportunity to help free Americans. We will continue to pursue every conceivable means to secure Austin's speedy release." It has often escalated to levels, making it some of the most diplomatically sensitive and emotional work for the White House. Oversaw a prisoner exchange for the release of Marine Trevor Reed. , allowing the agency to impose sanctions and visa bans on both state and non-state actors holding Americans.

Call for Offers

Those campaigning to free Tice welcome these changes and call on Biden to act.

Bill McCarren, who heads the Free Austin Tice campaign, told VOA that the Syrian government presented the demands at his 2020 meeting with US officials.

"The thing to do now is that the proposal needs to be considered, and it is the United States that needs to do it," he said. ``The ball is here and now,'' McAllen said at a meeting when Syrian officials called for a reduction in US forces in Syria, easing sanctions and limiting diplomatic engagement in Washington and Damascus. He said he raised two issues.

"It's not a crazy idea. These are things we should be happy to get involved in and discuss with them," he said. "And so far, it hasn't been done yet."

But West, who has worked in the Wing, said the process was excruciatingly complicated, requiring strong negotiations. I'm saying it's on.

FILE - Four American hostages held in Iran listen to the latest demands for their release on Dec. 25, 1980. From left: William Belk of Columbia, S.C.; Thomas Schaefer of Tacoma, Wash.; Donald Hohman of West Sacramento, Calif.; and John Craves of Reston, Va.
File - his four Americans detained in Iran Hostage was released on December 25, 1980. From left: William Berg of Columbia, South Carolina. This is Thomas Schaefer from Tacoma, Washington. Donald Homan of West Sacramento, California. 1981 1 As President Ronald Reagan was taking the oath of office on May 20, Philip Bobbitt, now a law professor at Columbia University, who worked in the White House said:

"If he tries to shake his elbows with more dramatic threats and more dramatic concessions to take the hostages back, even if he succeeds, it will make things more difficult in this case. In the future, if hostages are taken again, the United States must find negotiators he can trust, give them charters, and stick to them.”

The White House at the time. Bobbitt, who worked under Lloyd Cutler, who was an adviser to VOA, and was a negotiator for President Jimmy Carter during the crisis, said how the Carter administration persuaded the VOA of what negotiations were going on behind the scenes. Tehran releasing hostages:

"This is a club in New York City, late in the afternoon, in darkness and silence, secret with representatives of Bank of Markazi, the Iranian state. It happened at a meeting, and Cutler said the money in the Iranian assets we had frozen would not come back," Bobbitt said.

``The second proposal that Cutler made that afternoon was: He said he believed a cap could be put in place or Iran would face decades of plaguing lawsuits brought to the United States in front of a very sympathetic jury. ....and I believe it was that debate that really held the key.

For families on the sidelines, this complex, high-level dance between governments can be a painful experience and negotiations can still fall through, Diane Foley found out eight years ago this week.

FILE - Diane Foley, mother of James Foley, an American journalist slain by Islamic State militants, speaks to reporters outside the Albert V. Bryan Federal Courthouse following the trial of IS member El Shafee Elsheikh, in Alexandria, Va., April 14, 2022.
File - Diane Foley, Mother of Murdered American Journalist James Foley April 14, 2022, Speaking to reporters outside the Albert V. Bryan federal courthouse after the trial of IS member El Shafi Elsheikh in Alexandria, Virginia, by IS extremists
74} Her son James, a journalist, was kidnapped in Syria nine months ago by militia groups loyal to the Syrian president.

Former President Barack Obama failed. A rescue mission began, and on August 19, 2014, the prisoners released a chilling video showing Foley being decapitated.


Foley's mother said she welcomed the change since then.

"There has certainly been progress," she said. There was no such thing as captivity, so at least there are people responsible for the return of the Americans.”

emphasized that there is

"Family involvement is essential because they are the best advocates," she said. "They're the ones who never give up. They're the ones who always do what they can to bring their loved ones home." It claims to indicate that you are not playing games.

"It doesn't matter. Either the hostage is released or justice allows the person to be held accountable," he said. “You can do both. You can do both.