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(2nd LD) Park to hold first Cabinet meeting Monday
SEOUL, March 10 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye plans to hold her first Cabinet meeting on Monday even before the minimum number of ministers needed for such a meeting complete their parliamentary confirmation process, her spokeswoman said.

   Park has been unable to hold a Cabinet meeting since being inaugurated on Feb. 25 due to a delay in the parliamentary confirmation process for her minister nominees.

   The first meeting has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Monday at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, and will be attended by the president, Prime Minister Chung Hong-won, 13 new ministers, and two vice ministers from the finance and defense ministries, presidential spokeswoman Kim Haing said at a press briefing.

   "The president believes the stability of state affairs, such as national security and social safety, is more important than anything, and a Cabinet meeting can't be postponed any longer," Kim said.

   Tensions are high on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea's recent threats to wage nuclear war against South Korea and the U.S. if the two allies go ahead with their planned joint military drills on Monday. The communist nation has also stepped up its threats since the United Nations Security Council last week adopted a resolution condemning the North's Feb. 12 nuclear test.

   Moreover, nearly two dozen fires broke out across South Korea over the weekend, killing several people and injuring others.

   Under South Korean law, a Cabinet meeting is made up of the president, the prime minister and at least 15 Cabinet members. Lee Dong-phil, the nominee for agriculture minister, is expected to be the 13th Cabinet member to win parliamentary approval on Monday morning.

   The two vice ministers, who were appointed under previous President Lee Myung-bak, will substitute for the incoming finance and defense ministers who have yet to complete the parliamentary confirmation process, Kim said.

   Park is expected to formally appoint Kim Byung-kwan as defense minister on Tuesday regardless of whether the National Assembly approves of him or not, a presidential official said on condition of anonymity. By law, Park is allowed to unilaterally appoint ministers if the parliament fails to meet the deadline for the confirmation process.

   The president is also expected to appoint Hyun Oh-seok as finance minister on Friday once he completes the confirmation process.

   The remaining two Cabinet members are the minister of future creation and science, and the minister of maritime and fisheries affairs, both of whom have yet to undergo the confirmation process because their ministries do not legally exist yet.

   The two ministries are to be launched under Park's government reorganization bill, which has been stuck in parliament for weeks due to opposition concerns the restructuring will lead to a strengthening of government control over the media.

   Meanwhile, Park plans to ask the new ministers to report to her with each ministry's 100-day plan outlining ways to meet the president's administrative goals, such as job creation and tailored welfare services, presidential spokesman Yoon Chang-jung said in a separate press briefing.