SEOUL, Feb 17 – South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak chaired a top-level security meeting Tuesday amid growing fears of an armed clash with North Korea, the defence ministry said.
It was the first time for five years that the president has headed such a meeting, which drew about 200 top military, intelligence, law enforcement and local government officials on Tuesday.
Concerns are rising that the communist North, after months of threats against Seoul’s conservative government, will trigger a clash along the disputed western sea border.
The area around the border known as the Northern Limit Line (NLL) was the scene of deadly naval clashes in 1999 and 2002.
Last month North Korea declared that all its peace pacts with the South are void including a 1991 agreement to recognise the NLL as an interim border.
On Sunday its de facto head of state threatened "decisive actions" against South Korea if it continues what he called a challenge to Pyongyang.
Kim Yong-Nam is the highest-level official to threaten the South since relations soured last year.
Tuesday’s meeting "has presented missions to establish a combined defence posture… against enemy infiltration and provocation of a limited scale," the defence ministry said in a statement.
There is also speculation that the North will soon test its longest-range missile the Taepodong-2, which could theoretically reach Alaska.
On Monday Pyongyang signalled it would fire a rocket as part of what it termed a space programme, in what analysts say is a pretext for testing the missile.