REUTERS/Christopher Pike/File Photo

DUBAI/PARIS (Reuters) - The United States is struggling to win its allies' support for an initiative to heighten surveillance of vital Middle East oil shipping lanes because of fears it will increase tension with Iran, six sources familiar with the matter said.

Washington proposed on July 9 stepping up efforts to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen where it blames Iran and its proxies for tanker attacks. Iran denies the charges.

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(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bill Dodge)

The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer shot down an Iranian drone Thursday in the Strait of Hormuz, President Donald Trump announced.

"The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone which had closed into a very, very near distance – approximately 1,000 yards – ignoring multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship's crew," Trump said during a White House ceremony. "The drone was immediately destroyed."

"This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters," he continued. "The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities, our interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran's attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce. I also call on other nations to protect their ships as they go through the Strait and to work with us in the future."

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The Iranians just blasted one of the US military's most sophisticated and expensive drones out of the sky as tensions in the Strait of Hormuz reach the boiling point.

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GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he was prepared to take military action to stop Tehran from getting a nuclear bomb but left open whether he would back the use of force to protect Gulf oil supplies that Washington fears may be under threat by Iran.

Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane at the entrance to the Gulf. Washington blamed long-time foe Iran for the incidents.

Tehran denies responsibility but the attacks, and similar ones in May, have further soured relations that have plummeted since Trump pulled the United States out of a landmark international nuclear deal with Iran in May 2018.

Trump has restored and extended U.S. economic sanctions on Iran. That has forced countries around the world to boycott Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.

But in an interview with Time magazine, Trump, striking a different tone from some Republican lawmakers who have urged a military approach to Iran, said last week's tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman had only a "very minor" impact so far.

Asked if he would consider military action to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons or to ensure the free flow of oil through the Gulf, Trump said: "I would certainly go over nuclear weapons and I would keep the other a question mark."

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The owner of one of the two oil tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman said the crew saw "flying objects" just before the ship was hit, seeming to contract a narrative from the U.S. government suggesting mines were involved.

Yutaka Katada, the chief executive of Japanese shipping company Kokuka Sangyo, discussed the incident with reporters in Tokyo on Friday.

He said sailors on the Kokuka Courageous saw the objects above the water, and suggested they could be bullets, The Associated Press reported.

This seems to contradict the account given by the U.S. military, which said it saw what it suspects is an unexploded limpet mine on the side of the ship.

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Defense Department / Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro.

Only four days into the work week, the United States government has already managed to aggravate China, North Korea, and Iran, thus creating the potential for the biggest great-power melee since Bob Barker kicked Adam Sandler’s ass in Happy Gilmore.

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