No Change In US Military Alert Levels In Korea

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Defense Department says the alert readiness for U.S. forces on the Korean peninsula is unchanged following the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

Kim's death was announced by the state television from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. He was 69.

He is believed to have suffered a stroke in 2008 but appeared relatively vigorous in photos and video from recent trips to China and Russia and in numerous trips around the country carefully documented by state media. The leader, reputed to have had a taste for cigars, cognac and gourmet cuisine, was believed to have had diabetes and heart disease.

North Korea is calling on the country to "faithfully revere" its new leader following his death. The North's official Korean Central News Agency describes Kim's son, Kim Jong Un, as a "great successor" to the country's guiding principle of self-reliance.

South Korea's military is on high alert following Kim Jong Il's death. Its Yonhap news agency says North Korea conducted a short-range missile test today.

Pentagon spokesman George Little also said Monday that no unusual North Korean military movements have been detected since Kim Jong Il's death on Saturday after 17 years in power.

Little said U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke this morning with South Korean Defense Minister Gen. Kim Kwan-jin and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to its alliance with South Korea and stability on the Korean peninsula.

Little said both men agreed that it was critical to remain prudent with respect to the security posture there.

Panetta made it clear that the U.S. stands with the South Korea in this time of uncertainty, Little said.

The White House says it will remain in close touch with South Korea.

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