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Reports: U.S. and Syria in talks to free missing journalist

Negotiations are reportedly underway between U.S. and Syrian officials to secure the release of Austin Tice, a Marine veteran-turned-journalist who has been missing for more than two years.

The talks between U.S. officials and Syrian President Bashar Assad's government began after "an emissary representing the U.S. government" visited Tice, an unnamed European diplomat told Le Figaro, according to a French newspaper cited in McClatchy.

Tice, a former veteran Marine captain, served as an infantry officer and deployed to in Iraq and Afghanistan. He went missing in Syria in August 2012 after putting Tice put a law degree at Georgetown University on hold in 2012 to travel to Syria, where he filed award-winning stories for CBS News, McClatchy Newspapers and the Washington Post.

While Assad's government has not publicly admitted to holding Tice, the alleged negotiations would mark a rare the first dialogue between the Obama administration and Syrian officials since civil unrest quickly cascaded into major conflict in 2011.

The McClatchy report did not say whether there is a timeline associated with releasing Tice back to his family. Last month, Tice's father Marc his family said his family had but they have been reassured his son he is alive and is not in the hands of Islamic State militants, McClatchy reported.

Tice's family released a statement about the new reported developments on their website Wednesday.

"The release of any hostage is a blessing and great joy to their family and friends. We sincerely hope everything possible is being done for the safe return of our son, and, as ever, we hope to see Austin safely home as soon as possible."

In February, Tice's family joined with the journalist advocacy group Reporters Without Borders to launch a social media campaign to draw attention to their son's situation. They shared photos of themselves, donning blindfolds, using with the social media hashtag #FreeAustinTice. Supporters were encouraged to share similar photos and sign a petition for the White House to continue to search for and free Tice.

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