The Secretary of State to the Agent and Consul General at Cairo (Howell)
Sir: The Department acknowledges the receipt of the Agency and Consulate General’s despatch No. 189 of November 25, 1921, enclosing a copy of a communication from the Director General of the [Page 920] Egyptian Ministry for Foreign Affairs, in which reference is made to what is regarded by the Director General as an ambiguity in a phrase contained in the Agency and Consulate General’s note of October 28, 1921, informing the Egyptian Government of the consent of the Government of the United States to the prolongation of the Mixed Court arrangement for an indefinite period from November 1, 1921. The phrase in question is:
“under reservation to the Government of the United States of the right to withdraw its adherence to the arrangement at any time after one year.”
This phrase the Director General considers susceptible of two interpretations: the first, that it is intended to reserve to this Government a right to give one year’s notice of withdrawal from the Mixed Court arrangement; the other, that it is intended to reserve to this Government the right to withdraw without notice at any time after one year from the date of the promulgation of the decree prolonging the Mixed Courts. The reservation, if intended in the first sense, is said to be similar to that made by several other governments and to be unobjectionable to the Egyptian Government. On the other hand, if the reservation is intended in the second sense, the Director General suggests that it appears scarcely consonant either with American or with Egyptian interests.
You may inform the Director General of the Egyptian Ministry for Foreign Affairs that the right reserved by the Government of the United States, in consenting to the indefinite prolongation of the Mixed Court arrangement, is the right to withdraw its adherence to the arrangement at any time after the expiration of one year from November 1, 1921. You may state that the adherence of this Government to the Mixed Court arrangement will, after the expiration of one year from November 1, 1921, be literally for an indefinite period, and that although this Government, in authorizing the Agency and Consulate General’s communication of October 28, 1921, did not see fit to indicate how long a time should elapse between the notification of its intention to withdraw and its actual withdrawal from the arrangement, it does not anticipate that circumstances will arise which will make it seem advisable to withdraw from the arrangement without giving notice of its intention well in advance of actual withdrawal.
As of interest to the Director General, in connection with the reservation above referred to, as well as in connection with the statement which the Department, in its telegram No. 21, of December [October] 27, 1921, authorized the Agency and Consulate General to make with reference to the freedom of this Government to [Page 921] exercise all its jurisdictional rights under the capitulations in case of the abolition of the Mixed Courts by the Egyptian Government prior to the institution of other courts acceptable to this Government, you may call attention to the terms of the Proclamation of the President of the United States, on March 27, 1876, suspending the exercise of American extra-territorial jurisdiction in Egypt in so far as the jurisdiction of the Egyptian Mixed Courts, as then constituted, embraced matters cognizable by the Minister, Consuls, or other functionaries of the United States in Egypt. The Proclamation is printed in the United States Statutes at Large, Volume 19, page 662, and in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1876, page 1.
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