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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hostage Relatives Plead for U.S. Help

APSouth Korean protesters shouting slogans at an anti-war rally in front of the U.S. Embassy Wednesday in Seoul.
SEOUL, South Korea -- Desperate relatives begged for U.S. help in the Afghan hostage crisis Wednesday, saying U.S. intervention might be the last hope to free 21 South Koreans from Taliban captivity.

Major South Korean political parties also agreed to send a joint parliamentary delegation to the United States to seek cooperation in resolving the two-week crisis.

Both the families and the South Korean government have insisted that previous international practice in dealing with abductions be set aside in the interest of human life -- effectively asking the United States to make an exception to its policy of refusing to make concessions to terrorist demands.

Earlier Wednesday, family members visited the U.S. Embassy for about an hour and were told their message would be passed to Washington.

"We will hold on to any small hope to save them," said Ryu Haeng-sik, the husband of hostage Kim Yoon-yong, 35.

"We cannot say we're relieved, but there is no other way but to believe their words, that they're going to do their best," he said.

The South Korean president's office said Wednesday that Washington was giving basic cooperation on the standoff.

The families have grown increasingly desperate after the Taliban killed two hostages and threatened to shoot more by a Wednesday deadline if their demand to release insurgent prisoners is not met. That deadline passed without any immediate developments.

The captive group of South Korean volunteers traveled in a church group to Afghanistan's dangerous south against the government's advice and were seized from their bus July 19 while en route from the Afghan capital, Kabul, to the city of Kandahar.