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Pentagon says situation ‘calm’ on Korea peninsula

WASHINGTON (AFP) -- The U.S. military has detected no unusual movements by the North Korean military after the death of the country‘s leader Kim Jong-il and the situation on the peninsula remains “calm,” the Pentagon said Wednesday.

“We’ve not seen any unusual movements by the North Korean military. This appears to be a relatively smooth transition on the peninsula and we hope it stays that way,” press secretary George Little told reporters.

There has been no change in the alert status for the 28,500 American forces in South Korea and no signs of tension in recent days along the demilitarized zone that separates the North and South, officials said.

“Things are calm there across the DMZ right now and that‘s the way we like to see it,” Captain John Kirby told the same press briefing at the Pentagon.

U.S. commanders, including the chief of American troops in South Korea, General James Thurman, remain in regular communication with their South Korean counterparts, Little said.

North Korea said Wednesday that millions of people had turned out to mourn “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-il, whose death over the weekend has left the world scrambling for information about his young successor.

The North’s propaganda machine has rolled into action to secure the legacy of the late dictator and build up the same personality cult for his youngest son Jong-un, who is set to inherit the world‘s last communist dynasty.

The United States, which is treaty-bound to defend South Korea and Japan, is watching the succession process closely and President Barack Obama’s administration has struck a cautious tone in its public statements.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has consulted North Korea‘s neighbors and asked the younger Kim to embrace the “path of peace.”
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