Park-security ministers

SEOUL, April 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Park Geun-hye held a meeting with foreign affairs and security-related ministers on Tuesday amid North Korea's near-daily threats of war on the Korean Peninsula.

It was Park's first such meeting since she took office in February.

The meeting was organized to discuss the "situations at home and abroad," a presidential official said without elaborating. Participants included the chief of the national security office, the defense minister, the unification minister and the National Intelligence Agency chief, he said.

The first vice foreign minister attended the meeting on behalf of the foreign minister who is on a trip to the United States.

At the start of the meeting, Park said she spoke by phone with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala earlier in the day about economic cooperation and other issues, saying the South American nation has always supported Seoul's policy on North Korea.

In recent weeks, North Korea has sharply ratcheted up tensions with repeated war threats in anger over joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises as well as a new U.N. Security Council resolution adopted in response to its third nuclear test on Feb. 12.

Pyongyang voided the Korean War armistice and nonaggression pacts it signed with South Korea decades ago and cut off all cross-border hotlines before declaring that it was in "a state of war."

Despite the North's harsh rhetoric, analysts believe that chances of war breaking out on the peninsula are extremely low, because the communist regime in Pyongyang is well aware that any war would be suicidal.

Still, South Korea's military, supported by the U.S., remains on high alert with its top leaders vowing to sternly retaliate if attacked by the North.

During a defense ministry policy briefing on Monday, Park ordered the military to deal sternly with any North Korean provocations without "political considerations," saying she takes "very seriously" a recent string of North Korean moves and war threats.

The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the two Koreas still technically at war. About 28,500 U.S. troops are stationed in South Korea to deter North Korean provocations.

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