(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with additional remarks by minister; CHANGES headline, lead, dateline; ADDS photos)
By Chae Yun-hwan and Choi Soo-hyang
SEOUL/GIMPO, South Korea, Oct. 13 (Joint Press Corps-Yonhap) -- South Korea's minister in charge of inter-Korean ties expressed hope Wednesday for multisided implementation of existing agreements between the two Koreas, as he visited an estuary of the Han River near their western border.
He reaffirmed Seoul's resolve not to cease efforts to bring lasting peace to the peninsula and achieve co-prosperity.
"(We) are at a crossroads between headway toward a peace cycle and deadlock," Unification Minister Lee In-young said while attending a trial navigation event at a port in Gimpo. "The (security) situation is still fluid, but we will not stop trying to completely end war on the Korean Peninsula and achieve co-prosperity."
The two Koreas agreed on the joint use of the estuary in September 2018, when their leaders -- Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un -- had summit talks. They conducted joint waterway research in November that year.
The North has been sending mixed signals when it comes to inter-Korean relations. Early this month, it restored inter-Korean communication channels following a series of missile tests.
On Tuesday, the North's state media carried Kim's major message delivered on the 76th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party. He called for bolstering military capabilities to counter what he called "hostile forces" against Pyongyang but said the move is not aimed at a war against South Korea or the United States. He said the North's enemy is war itself.
The minister said the government will respond to Pyongyang's statements and actions in a calm and prudent manner on the basis of comprehensive analysis.
He attached meaning to the resumption of the cross-border hotline operation and voiced hope for multisided implementation of inter-Korean accords, including that on the estuary.
Lee raised the possibility that South Korea will explore ways to cooperate with North Korea on the use of the estuary even before international sanctions on the regime are fully lifted. He cited the need for a "more resilient and creative" approach by the two Koreas.
He stressed that Seoul is ready to talk with Pyongyang anytime, with every agenda left open, and called on it to respond to the offer positively as well.
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