President urges South Koreans to be militarily ready

     South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has called on his country's citizens to be prepared militarily and respond sternly to Pyongyang following the March 26 sinking of the warship Cheonan. "If we fail to sternly respond to North Korea's wrongdoing in cooperation with the international community, and build up solid military readiness, a second and third provocation like the Cheonan incident can occur anytime," the China Daily quoted Myung-bak, as warning. South Korea has taken a slew of punitive measures against North Korea, including resuming propaganda operations - after blaming Pyongyang for torpedoing the Cheonan in March and killing 46 South Korean naval personnel. North Korea has flatly denied the allegation and has warned any retaliation would trigger war. South Korea has reinstalled loudspeakers on its side of the border after a six-year hiatus, but has yet to begin blaring propaganda. China and Russia have urged restraint by all parties. Lee also said he would revamp and strengthen South Korea's military and hold some officers responsible for the sinking. Lee didn't name any top officers but his comments came a day after his top military officer offered to retire amid criticism over alleged negligence ahead of the sinking. General Lee Sang-eui, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, submitted his application for retirement to Defense Minister Kim Tae-young, on Sunday, according to Lee's office. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Han Min-koo has been designated as the new chairman of the JCS, subject to Cabinet approval, which was expected late on Tuesday.

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