December 20, 2011 09:45
President Lee Myung-bak discussed measures for responding to the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il at an emergency meeting held in the underground bunker of Cheong Wa Dae on Monday, immediately after the news was reported by the North's official Korean Central News Agency.
Lee canceled all his engagements on Monday afternoon and issued a state of emergency to all civil servants and military personnel. Lee had a series of phone calls with U.S. President Barack Obama at 2 p.m., Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda at 2:50 p.m., and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at 5 p.m. to discuss ways of cooperating in the wake of the news.
The South Korean military raised the level of monitoring activities, but agreed with the U.S. Forces in Korea not to raise the Watchcon level. Gen. Jung Seung-jo, chairman of the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. James Thurman, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, held a joint emergency meeting on Monday afternoon during which they agreed to strengthen information exchanges.
The South Korean military also requested that its U.S. counterpart reinforce its monitoring activities of the North using U-2 reconnaissance aircraft and satellites due to fears of mounting instability across the border, or any possible aggression.
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