Trump says US will talk to UK about tanker Iran seized

Trump says US will talk to UK about tanker Iran seized
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The United States will be speaking with the United Kingdom about Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker, President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE said Friday.

“We’re going to be speaking with the U.K., and this only goes to show what I’m saying about Iran: trouble, nothing but trouble,” Trump told reporters while departing the White House.

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Trump did not say whether the incident would prompt a response, saying, “Let’s see what happens."

“But I know that it’s not an American ship, it’s U.K.,” he added.

Trump also contradicted comments from a day earlier about asking Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulOvernight Defense: House passes compromise defense bill | Turkey sanctions advance in Senate over Trump objections | Top general says military won't be 'raping, burning and pillaging' after Trump pardons Rand Paul: 'We need to re-examine' US-Saudi relationship after Florida shooting Senate panel advances Turkey sanctions bill despite Trump objections MORE (R-Ky.) to negotiate with Iran, saying now that he agreed to allow the senator to do so.

On Thursday, Trump denied a report that he had asked Paul to act as an emissary to Iran.

But on Friday, Trump said, “Rand is a friend of mine. He asked if he could get involved. The answer is yes.”

Earlier Friday, Iranian state media reported that Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had seized the British-flagged Stena Impero as it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz. An IRGC statement said the ship was taken “for failing to respect international maritime rules.”

The Swedish company that owns the Impero confirmed the ship was headed north toward Iran after being approached by “unidentified small crafts and a helicopter” while in international waters in the Strait of Hormuz. The company said it has not been able to contact the ship.

Reports later emerged of a Liberian-flagged tanker being seized as well.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was attending an emergency briefing to “review what we know and what we can do to swiftly secure the release of the two vessels — a British-flagged vessel and a Liberian-flagged vessel.”

“Our ambassador in Tehran is in contact with the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to resolve the situation and we are working closely with international partners,” Hunt said in a statement. “These seizures are unacceptable. It is essential that freedom of navigation is maintained and that all ships can move safely and freely in the region.”

The British company that owns theLiberian-flagged ship, called the Mesdar, later said the ship has been allowed to continue its journey after being boarded by armed personnel.

"All crew are safe and well," Norbulk Shipping UK added in a statement.

The Strait of Hormuz is a strategic chokepoint through which a fifth of the world’s oil travels. Iran has frequently threatened to close the strait.

The seizure is the latest flashpoint causing spiking tensions in the Gulf region.

On Thursday, Trump announced that the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer had downed an Iranian drone that come within 1,000 yards of the ship and ignored calls to stand down. The Boxer was traveling through the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran denied the U.S. account, saying it has not lost any drones. But Trump said earlier Friday there was “no doubt” the United States destroyed the drone.

That incident followed Iran shooting down a U.S. surveillance drone last month, bringing Trump within minutes of launching a retaliatory military strike on Iran.