800.6363/296a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (Harvey)

492. L. I. Thomas, Vice President Standard Oil Company of New York, will arrive in London about August 29 and will discuss with you restraints imposed upon his company in Palestine. See Embassy despatch No. 1732, November 24, 1919, No. 3340, August 28, 1920, enclosures, and Embassy telegram No. 3322, October 30, 1919, 6 P.M., and 159 and 160, March 1, 1921.36

You may after discussing the matter with Mr. Thomas make oral representations to the Foreign Office, requesting that representatives of the company be permitted to travel in Palestine so as to enable them to make a geological examination of the areas covered by their rights. Conditions of war, referred to by the Foreign Office in 1919,37 no longer prevail in Palestine, and it is understood that travel is now permitted. It is believed that the granting at this time of such permission could not be construed as inconsistent with the principles which have been accepted by the British Government with respect to the development of the economic resources of mandated regions. The suggested examination could apparently in no way compromise the future authorities of the country, since it is understood that the investigations would not be conducted with a view to acquiring new claims or strengthening old ones. If the above opinion is not shared by the Foreign Office, it should be pointed out that the company is understood to be willing to discuss any reasonable preliminary arrangement designed to preserve the legal status quo.

If in the course of your conversations the Foreign Office refers to Mesopotamia, you may say that this Government perceives no objection in principle to geologists travelling freely in Mesopotamia, provided geologists of any nationality are given the same opportunity throughout the entire region, and provided that the legal status quo is preserved until the permanent Government is established. See Department’s 448, August 4, 1921,38 section 6 (B). Furthermore, [Page 96] this Government assumes that public announcement will be made if or when it is decided to permit geological examinations either in Palestine or Mesopotamia.

Please urge the Foreign Office to hasten its reply. The rainy season begins about December 1 and undue delay would force postponement until next spring, increasing the expense and inconvenience already caused the company by the restraints in Palestine.

  1. None printed except Embassy’s telegram no. 160, Mar. 1, p. 80.
  2. See telegram no. 3432, Nov. 22, 1919, from the Ambassador in Great Britain, Foreign Relations, 1919, vol. ii, p. 260.
  3. Post, p. 106.