President Obama in recent weeks personally met with family members of the two American hostages still held by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to a Thursday report.

The meetings were set up, after U.S. officials became concerned they were not providing the families with frequent or clear enough communications on what the government was doing to help free the hostages, according to Foreign Policy.

{mosads}The terror group has already beheaded two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and a pair of British humanitarians in brutal propaganda films uploaded to the Internet. Their remaining U.S. hostages are Abdul-Rahman Kassig, a 26-year old aid worker from Indiana, and an unnamed female aid worker.

ISIS has threatened to kill Kassig next.

A spokesman for Sotloff’s family has levied harsh criticism at the White House over its handling of the hostage situation.

Barak Barif told CNN last month that Sotloff had been sold to ISIS by the moderate Syrian opposition that the administration now plans to arm and train. He also said the White House had not done enough to secure the release of the American journalists and made “a number of inaccurate statements” — including that the family was kept “regularly informed” about their son.

“We know that the intelligence community and the White House are enmeshed in a larger game of bureaucratic infighting and Jim and Steve are pawns in that game, and that’s not fair,” Barif said, adding that the relationship between the administration and Sotloff family was “strained.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest later denied that Sotloff had been sold by moderate rebels.

“Based on the information that has been provided to me, I don’t believe that is accurate,” Earnest said, citing an FBI investigation into the case.

While some Western governments have agreed to pay or help arrange ransoms to free hostages captured by ISIS, the United States has a policy against doing so. White House officials have said that paying ransoms would encourage additional kidnappings and provide financial support to terrorist organizations.

On Wednesday, Kassig’s mother tweeted a plea to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to free her son.

“I am trying to get in touch with the Islamic State about my son’s fate,” she wrote in the message.

“I am an old woman, and Abdul Rahman is my only child.

“My husband and I are on our own, with no help from the government. We would like to talk to you. How can we reach you?”

Tags Barak Barif ISIS James Foley Steven Sotloff

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