The Ambassador in France (Wallace) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 2036

Sir: In answer to the Department’s No. 681, December 1, 1920, enclosing for delivery to the French Foreign Office, a copy of a note addressed to Earl Curzon under date of November 20th on the subject of petroleum resources in the Near East, and directing me to obtain an interpretation by the French Government of the provisions of the agreement between Great Britain, Italy and France, signed at Sèvres on August 10, 1920, in the light of the note above referred to, I have the honor to enclose herewith, in copy and translation, the reply received from the Minister for Foreign Affairs setting forth the French point of view in regard to the clauses of the said tripartite agreement.

I have [etc.]

Hugh C. Wallace
[Page 675]

The French Minister of Foreign Affairs (Leygues) to the American Ambassador (Wallace)

Mr. Ambassador: In your letter of December 24, communicating to me the text of a note addressed by the Federal Government to the British Government under date of November 20, in regard to the question of mandates, you were good enough to request me to inform you of the French Government’s interpretation of the clauses of the treaty signed at Sèvres, August 10, 1920, between France, Great Britain, and Italy, relating to the creation in Anatolia of spheres of special interest.

I hasten to inform you that the agreement in question is based solely upon the system borrowed from Anglo-Saxon juridical usage of “self-denying undertaking” pursuant to which each contracting party without any prohibition whatsoever in regard to the others or to third parties, denies himself certain actions. It would seem that an agreement based upon such principles should be the less likely to arouse the susceptibilities of other powers inasmuch as article 10 of the agreement of August 10 provides in favor of nationals of third powers for all economic purposes, free access to the so-called zones of special interest, and thus sanctions in favor of the said powers the principle of commercial equality.

The American Government has doubtless not failed to observe, furthermore, that by this agreement the three signatory powers have assumed certain engagements which may prove particularly heavy as regards the protection of minorities in Turkey.

Kindly accept [etc.]

G. Leygues
  1. File translation revised.