867.602 Ot 81/172

Memorandum by the Acting Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, Department of State (Robbins)

Admiral Chester, accompanied by his son38 and Admiral Rousseau,39 called upon the Secretary of State this morning. His son, a New York lawyer, presented the case to the Secretary, stating that his father and he were anxious to secure the support of the Department of State in the obtaining of the Chester oil concession in Anatolia, Syria and Mesopotamia. He explained that the concession was originally proposed in 1909; that after some negotiations it was approved by the Grand Vizier and would have been granted by the Turkish Parliament in 1911 had it not been for the opposition of the German Embassy at Constantinople.

The Secretary then remarked that it appeared that the concession had never actually been obtained. This Mr. Chester agreed to. He said, however, that he and his associates were very anxious to obtain the support of the Secretary of State and the Department in securing this concession now. The Secretary replied that he would have to give the matter further thought.

Comment. In view of the objection now felt by the Department to certain monopolistic oil concessions proposed by Great Britain in her own mandate area of Mesopotamia, it would seem impractical at the present time for the Department to make a definite statement or to give definite encouragement to an American concession in Mesopotamia.

Doctor Cumberland40 spoke with the Secretary before Admiral Chester and his associates were received and stated that he did not feel at present that the project of Admiral Chester was worthy of consideration; that there did not appear to be any capital back of it, and that the plans were far too vague.

It would appear that the plan of Admiral Chester is to secure from the Department a blanket letter of recommendation which would [Page 921] help him to secure various concessions in the mandate area. It seems, therefore, inadvisable at present to give him any letters of recommendation.

W. R[obbins]
  1. C. M. Chester, Jr.
  2. Rear Admiral H. H. Rousseau, U.S.N.
  3. W. W. Cumberland, Acting Foreign Trade Adviser, Department of State.