The Acting Secretary of State to Minister Leishman.

No. 1030.]

Sir: Your dispatch No. 1283, of the 15th ultimo, is received. Referring to the department’s instruction inclosing copy of the letter to Mr. Oscar S. Straus in regard to a petition for the President to take action to prevent the cruelties suffered by the Armenian subjects of Turkey, you say “that the action of the President in declining to offer any interference will no doubt prove a great relief not only to the Sultan, but also to the European powers, who find the Turkish question a most difficult problem to solve; that the mere suggestion of a conference was sufficient to cause considerable worry and anxiety.”

It is desirable that the position of the United States in this regard be not misunderstood. This Government does not oppose a conference of the Berlin treaty powers. It is simply without the right or opportunity to move toward bringing about such a conference, but that inability to act on our part does not in any way affect the powers or duties which may pertain to the signatories under the Berlin treaty, nor does it tend to relieve the signatories from any obligations they may have contracted among themselves. This Government could not assume to announce any opinion as to the nature or extent of such obligations, except in the case of the interests of equitable rights of the United States being affected by the failure of a signatory to fulfill a plainly expressed obligation of the common treaty. It should be understood that this Government can not renounce in advance its right to protect any legal and equitable interests.

Your obedient servant,

Robert Bacon.