A visiting US Navy admiral was seeking explanations from China's government Monday amid revelations that the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk and its battle group were "stalked" by a Chinese submarine last month. The Washington Times said the incident took place during a routine deployment off Okinawa Oct. 26 and that the submarine was not detected until it surfaced close enough to be within firing range of its torpedoes. In Beijing, Adm. Gary Roughead, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said he "really would like to know what the intent is in some of the developments that I see" from China's Navy. The US has promoted military exchanges with China, such as through invitations to observe various exercises and tour facilities, some of them sensitive, as the latter engages in a heavy buildup. But critics say the Chinese haven't reciprocated. In a related development, Iranian TV last week broadcast footage of US warships opeerating in the Persian Gulf that it said was taken by an unmanned drone.

Saying it is "not necessary," senior officials in South Korea confirmed Monday that their government won't help to intercept and inspect cargo ships from rival North Korea that may be smuggling nuclear weapons components or missiles. Critics said the announcement makes the monitoring of North Korean shipping much more difficult, since a US-led security initiative in the wake of the North's Oct. 9 nuclear weapons test allows for such interceptions only in the territorial waters of participating nations. The two Koreas have a joint agreement on maritime inspections, which the South may use at any time. It has yet to do so, however.

Clashes between police and thousands of protesters worsened Monday in the streets of Bangladesh's capital, and organizers of a mass strike against the government said they'd extend it into Tuesday unless their demands are met. One person died when he was struck by a police van and dozens of others were hurt as the two sides exchanged volleys of stones, rubber bullets, and tear gas. The 14-party alliance behind the protests seeks the removal of four elections commissioners before next January's voting.

Despite its deepening political crisis, Lebanon's government unanimously approved a UN tribunal for suspects in the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The vote came over the protest of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud and the resignations of six cabinet members who represent Hizbullah or otherwise share Lahoud's loyalties. Senior Syrian officials are implicated in the assassination. All six resignations, which Prime Minister Fuad Siniora tried to reject, sharpen the divide between pro- and anti-Syrian forces and leave his cabinet without Shiite representation.

With ballot-counting nearing completion, residents in the small province of South Ossetia overwhelmingly voted for independence from Georgia, elections officials said. They put the "yes" vote as high as 99 percent. The referendum Sunday won't bring an immediate split, however, since Georgia does not recognize it as legitimate. But analysts said it could be used as another weapon by neighboring Russia, which has been retaliating against Georgia for pursuing closer ties with the West. South Ossetians held a similar referendum in 1992, but it was not recognized by any other country.

Illegally stored explosives caught fire, giving off toxic gas that killed 25 workers in China's latest coal mine accident, the Xinhua news agency reported Monday. It said nine others were trapped inside the mine, which had been ordered to close two months ago after its operating license expired. The accident took place in the same province, Shanxi, where a Nov. 5 explosion killed at least 35 miners. Rescue crews are still searching for 12 of their coworkers. In July, more than 50 coal miners died in yet another explosion in Shanxi.

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