891.6363 Standard Oil/37

The Secretary of State to the British Ambassador (Geddes)

My Dear Mr. Ambassador: I beg to acknowledge the receipt of Mr. Chilton’s informal communication, dated October 7, 1921, calling attention to reports which have been received by the British Government to the effect that the Persian Government is offering to an American group an oil concession in Northern Persia and setting forth that petroleum rights in this region were taken over in proper form some time ago by a British firm. It is further stated that the British Government has left the Persian Government in no doubt that the British right to the concession is valid and, if questioned, will receive official support.

I am not sufficiently informed at this time to express an opinion on the legal status of any of the contracts to which Khoshtaria may have been a party or which may have been transferred to him; but, from the information in my possession, there would seem to be, in the case of some of these contracts, a basis for a reasonable doubt with regard to their validity. For example, the fundamental law of Persia requires that the granting of all concessions shall be subject to the approval of the National Consultative Assembly; and it is understood that certain of the concessions alleged to have been granted to Khoshtaria have never received the required approval.

I shall be grateful, accordingly, if, in the interest of a mutual understanding in this matter, you would be kind enough to inform me whether it is the opinion of the British Government that all legal requirements necessary for the granting or transfer of the concessions have been fulfilled, and, if so, upon what facts such opinion is based.

It is believed appropriate in this connection to refer to the exclusive control already possessed by the Anglo-Persian Oil Company over the production and transportation of petroleum throughout the greater part of Persia. Recognition of the claims now advanced by that company in the northern provinces would apparently result in the complete exclusion of American companies from Persia, so far as petroleum development is concerned. In an official memorandum on the petroleum situation, which you kindly transmitted to me on July 27, 1921,20 I have noted certain statements regarding the attitude of the British Government with respect to petroleum concessions in Persia. I feel justified, accordingly, in assuming that unless the claims in question could be properly established there would be [Page 646] no purpose on the part of the British Government to employ its influence to prevent the enjoyment by American citizens of such opportunity as remains for acquiring a minor participation in the petroleum industry of Persia.

I am [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes
  1. Memorandum and covering note of July 27, 1921, not printed. The memorandum was a British Government publication: Despatch to His Majesty’s Ambassador at Washington enclosing a Memorandum on the Petroleum Situation (London, H. M. Stationery Office, 1921). Miscellaneous No. 17. Cmd. 1351.