OREANDA-NEWS. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denied media’s suggestions that the USA could agree to concessions to Syria, including the withdrawal of soldiers from the country, in exchange for the release of journalist Austin Tice.

Tice, a freelance reporter from the United States, disappeared in Syria in 2012. Washington suggests that it may be in the hands of the Syrian authorities.

“Our ask is that the Syrians release Mr. Tice, they tell us what they know. They have chosen not to do that so far. We’ll continue to work for the return not only of Austin, but of every American that’s held. We’re not going to change American policy to do that. As the President said clearly, we don’t pay for the return of hostages,” Pompeo said at a press conference in response to a question if the USA would withdraw troops from Syria in exchange for Tice’s release.

Earlier, The Wall Street Journal, citing sources from the US presidential administration, reported that a high-ranking White House official Kash Patel visited Damascus this year and met with representatives of the Syrian government. According to the publication, he tried to secure the release of at least two US citizens, who are believed to be held by official Damascus.