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US hostage envoy in Beirut to discuss missing Americans in Syria: Sources

Carstens visited Damascus on a rare trip for US officials during the summer of 2020.

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US hostage envoy Roger Carstens was in Lebanon on Thursday to discuss the fate of missing US citizens in Syria, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Last month, the family of Majd Kamalmaz, a US citizen believed to be detained by the Syrian government, told Washington-based Al-Monitor that the Biden administration was in direct contact with the Assad regime over the issue.

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Carstens, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs at the State Department, met with Lebanon’s foreign minister and other officials, sources told Al Arabiya English.

Lebanon’s General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim was likely to have met Carstens, although no readouts of the US official’s meetings were published by the US or Lebanese governments. Diplomats and officials in Washington and Beirut remained tight-lipped over the trip.

Al Arabiya English has reached out to the State Department and the National Security Council.

Ibrahim has previously negotiated the release of multiple foreign nationals, including US citizens, from Iran, Syria and other countries.

Kamalmaz, a 64-year-old clinical psychologist, has been missing since February 2017 after being detained by the Assad regime near Damascus.

Austin Tice, also a US citizen, was kidnapped in Damascus in August 2012 while working as a freelance journalist to cover the Syrian war.

Carstens visited Damascus on a rare trip for US officials during the summer of 2020. He and then-Trump administration official Kash Patel met with Syria’s intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk to discuss the release of US citizens.

Read more: Blinken says Syria can free missing US journalist Austin Tice

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