573 A 1/5a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Italy (Johnson)

91. For your information the following is full text of agreement of December 10, 1920 referred to in Department’s 35 of March 9, 1921, 4 p.m.70

“The undersigned, representatives of the Governments of the United States of America, Great Britain and Italy, have concluded [Page 540] the following agreement providing for reciprocal facilities for the landing of cables for relay purposes, ad referendum to their respective Governments for approval and subject to ratification in accordance with their constitutional forms:

Certain points and islands shall be especially designated as available on equal terms to the nationals of all the states, signatory to this protocol, which give reciprocal facilities for the landing of cables for automatic relay purposes or for manual retransmission. The sovereignty of the state having jurisdiction over the point or island in question shall be in no wise impaired or limited except as provided in this agreement. If as a consequence of the point or island in question being made a military or specially defended area, it becomes desirable that a cable already landed on such point or island should be removed, the state concerned can require the removal of the cable in question on a reasonable notice. The detailed conditions governing the landing of a cable and its possible removal shall form the subject of agreement between the parties interested.

Messages in transit over such cables are not subject to interference, examination or censorship by authorities of the jurisdiction unless the state having jurisdiction is itself a party to a war or obligated to maintain neutrality or involved in a local disturbance; in the two latter cases supervision of messages is permitted only to the extent necessary in order to insure that no unauthorized local messages are transmitted.

Messages in transit over such cables are not subject to a transit tax nor are the owners of the cables subject to any taxation except an income tax upon the proceeds of any local business done and taxation upon the tangible property within the jurisdiction, which taxes shall be general and non-discriminatory. Persons engaged in the local operation of the cable and their property within the jurisdiction are subject to such general and non-discriminatory taxation as is or may be payable by all persons or property within the jurisdiction.”

Signed by representatives of the United States, Great Britain and by Brambilla for Italy.

It was clearly understood by the framers of above agreement that it was drawn up without reference to any specific plans for cable extension. The purpose of the agreement was to provide a working basis upon which the signatory countries, which it was hoped would eventually include most of the countries of the world, could proceed with general plans for cable extension. You will observe from the text of agreement that details concerning the landing of any specific cable are subject to agreement of parties concerned. In view of foregoing the Department does not fully understand why the Italian Government should require information concerning specific plans before considering further the agreement of December 10th. You may inform the Italian Government that the Department has no information concerning plans to lay an American cable to Italy nor has it any information concerning British plans.

[Page 541]

You will observe from the text of agreement that the setting aside of specially designated places for the purpose of manual as well as automatic relay, is contemplated and that there is provision also for eventual collection of taxes on local business. Presumably the question of type of relay employed and question of local business would be dealt with in specific agreement covering each individual cable.

[Paraphrase.] Following is for your information. The above agreement resulted from discussions extending over a period of many weeks. Although the agreement was signed ad referendum it was the distinct belief of our delegates that in approving the agreement the Italian delegates knew the attitude of the Italian Government. This agreement is considered by the Department to be an important move toward a condition making a freer extension of cable facilities possible. [End paraphrase.]

  1. See telegram to Great Britain, supra.