891.6363 Standard Oil/23: Telegram

The Chargé in Persia (Engert) to the Secretary of State

23. Anglo-Persian Oil Company has had a representative here since March 25th, to negotiate for ex-Russian and other oil concessions in north Persia. He is apparently not making much headway as he has repeatedly approached me with a view to ascertaining whether American capital would be disposed to participate. He claims personally to be in favor of such participation but that his company until quite recently was opposed.

Since my arrival last October I have occasionally informally mentioned to leading Persians desirability of American exploitation of north Persia oil in the sense of the Department’s telegraphic and mail instructions. At first they were somewhat hesitant fearing offend the British but gradually grew bolder and now openly advocate concessions to Americans. If American interests are in earnest they should at once send a carefully chosen representative with full powers but his mission should not be disclosed too soon. Anglo-Persian Oil Company is in strong position because it is constantly advancing funds to the Persian Government. American companies would therefore have to be ready to do the same as soon as concessions are obtained.

Admitting the political uncertainty of the future and even the possibility of Bolshevism in Persia it would obviously be an advantage to have concessions from an avowedly anti-Bolshevik Government to be used at some future time aside from the fact that the presence of American interests might enable Persia to resist Soviet influences more successfully.