Washington – President Joe Biden met Friday with the family of WNBA star Britney Griner and another American detained in Russia, Paul Whelan.
In a separate statement after the meeting, White House press secretary Carine Jean-Pierre said Biden had told the family that they would “do their best through all available means to bring Britney and Paul back home safely.” “continued commitment,” he said.
“The president wished Elizabeth and Sherrell and their families peace during this difficult time,” Jean-Pierre said. Every minute they are tied up is one minute too long. “
Still, administration officials said the talks did not signify a breakthrough in negotiations with Russia for their release.
Earlier Friday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Russia had responded to what government officials called a substantive and serious proposal to secure the release of Griner and Whelan. said no.
“The president won’t give up,” Kirby told reporters. Let’s go.”
Griner has been in custody in Russia since February on drug-related charges.she was Sentenced to nine years in prison last month After pleading guilty, he appealed the punishment.Whelan offers a service 16 years in prison for espionage-related charges What he and his family say is false. The U.S. government believes they were unfairly detained and has filed a lawsuit with the office of the chief hostage bargaining officer.
Secretary of State Antony Brinken took the unusual step of announcing two months ago that his administration had made substantive proposals to Russia. He did not elaborate on the proposal, but a person familiar with the matter said the United States had offered to release convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout.
The administration carried out a prisoner exchange in April last year, Moscow Releases Marine Veteran Trevor Reed In exchange for the United States to release Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was convicted of drug trafficking conspiracy.
The President’s National Security Advisor, Jake Sullivan, attended both meetings. Biden met with Elizabeth Whelan, sister of Paul Whelan. The president then met with Britney Griner’s wife, Sherrel Griner, and the player’s agent, Lindsay Colas, according to the White House.
In a statement late Friday, Sherrell Griner thanked him for meeting with Biden.
“It was an honor to speak directly with him about the Britney we know and love, and it was an honor to thank the government for their efforts to secure her release.” I look forward to the day I go home.”
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https://www.ksat.com/news/politics/2022/09/16/biden-meeting-with-families-of-whelan-griner-at-white-house/ Biden meets Griner Whelan’s family at White House