Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff met on Friday morning with family members of Americans who remain unaccounted for in Israel, some of whom are believed to be held hostage by Hamas.
The roughly hour-and-a-half meeting was held at the US State Department and led by Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens, per a US official who was at the meeting.
The official described the meeting as very emotional and “deeply moving.”
Friday’s meeting comes amid ongoing efforts to free the more than 200 hostages believed to be still held in Gaza. There are 10 Americans who remain unaccounted for, and some of them are known to be hostages. Officials familiar with the talks had spoken of some progress, but a US official described the situation as “very touch and go.”
On Friday afternoon, the Israel Defense Forces announced they were expanding ground operations in the Hamas-controlled enclave. US officials insisted that the talks would continue despite the expansion of the operations.
Harris and Emhoff greeted each of the roughly dozen family members who represented a “handful” of Americans and listened to them share stories about their loved ones. Harris encouraged them to ask questions, though the official did not give details on the substance of the questions or what sort of answers Harris was able to give.
Harris stressed that she understood the importance of family and the pain that comes when your loved one is in pain, the official said.
She reiterated that the return of their loved ones is a top priority for the president and herself, and told them that they are not fighting alone.
President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have also both spoken with the families of the Americans held hostage.
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