December 9, 2023

President Joe Biden speaks throughout a gathering with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa within the Oval Workplace of the White Home, Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, in Washington. (AP Picture/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden met Friday with members of the family of WNBA star Brittney Griner and one other American detained in Russia, Paul Whelan, the primary face-to-face encounter that the president has had with the kin.

In a press release after the conferences, which have been held individually, White Home press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre mentioned Biden careworn to the households his “continued dedication to working via all out there avenues to carry Brittney and Paul residence safely.”

“He requested after the well-being of Elizabeth and Cherelle and their respective households throughout this painful time,” Jean-Pierre mentioned. “The President appreciated the chance to be taught extra about Brittney and Paul from those that love them most, and acknowledged that each minute they’re being held is a minute too lengthy.”

Nonetheless, administration officers have mentioned the conferences weren’t a sign that negotiations with Russia for his or her launch have reached a breakthrough.

Earlier Friday, John Kirby, a spokesman for the Nationwide Safety Council, mentioned that Russia has not responded to what administration officers have referred to as a considerable and critical supply to safe Griner and Whelan’s launch.

“The president shouldn’t be going to let up,” Kirby informed reporters. “He’s assured that that is going to stay within the forefront of his thoughts and his staff’s thoughts, and so they’re going to proceed to work as arduous as they will.”

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Griner has been held in Russia since February on drug-related prices. She was sentenced final month to 9 years in jail after pleading responsible and has appealed the punishment. Whelan is serving a 16-year sentence on espionage-related prices that he and his household say are false. The U.S. authorities regards each as wrongfully detained, putting their instances with the workplace of its high hostage negotiator.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken took the weird step of saying two months in the past that the administration had made a considerable proposal to Russia. Although he didn’t elaborate on the proposal, an individual acquainted with the matter has mentioned the U.S. has supplied to launch convicted Russian arms seller Viktor Bout.

The administration carried out a prisoner swap final April, with Moscow releasing Marine veteran Trevor Reed in change for the U.S. releasing a Russian pilot, Konstantin Yaroshenko, convicted in a drug trafficking conspiracy.

Jake Sullivan, the president’s nationwide safety adviser, participated in each conferences. Biden sat down with Elizabeth Whelan, the sister of Paul Whelan. Then the president met with Cherelle Griner, the spouse of Brittney Griner, in addition to the participant’s agent, Lindsay Colas, based on the White Home.

Cherelle Griner thanked Biden for the assembly in a press release late Friday.

“It was an honor to talk with him immediately in regards to the Brittney we all know and love, and to thank him for the Administration’s efforts to safe her launch.” she mentioned. “I’ve felt each minute of the grueling seven months with out her. I sit up for the day my spouse is again residence.”

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