890g.6363 T 84/41: Telegram

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


185. On June 22 Bedford61 called at the Department on behalf of seven American oil companies which had conferred on June 20. In reply to his inquiry, the Department made a statement of its attitude toward negotiations between American and British interests on Mesopotamian oil. The following is the substance of the Department’s statement.

In the correspondence on mandates this Government has contended and is contending for the broad principle of equality of commercial opportunity. The Mesopotamian oil question furnishes a test of the application of that principle. Any arrangement, therefore, which is not in agreement with that principle or which implies a repudiation of the view held by this Government that the Turkish Petroleum Co. has no valid concession in Mesopotamia, could not receive the approval of this Government. It is not the desire of the Department, however, to make difficulties or to prolong needlessly a diplomatic dispute or so to disregard the practical aspects of the situation as to prevent American enterprise from availing itself of the very opportunities which our diplomatic representations have striven to obtain.

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If, therefore, American and British interests should enter upon private negotiations on this subject, the Department has no objection, provided (1) that any reputable American company which is willing and ready to participate will not be excluded by the arrangements decided upon, and (2) that the legal validity of the claims of the Turkish Petroleum Co. will not be recognized except after an impartial and appropriate determination of the matter such as has been suggested by this Government.

As to the first condition named above, Bedford has given the Department to understand that all American companies likely to be interested are already included in the seven companies now concerned. As to the second condition, the Department has suggested that doubtless it would be possible at the proper time to obtain a new or confirmatory grant of a concession to the Turkish Petroleum Co. if that company is to be the basis of the proposed arrangement.

The above position is concurred in by Bedford, who stated that the American group would send a representative to London to confer with the British interests.

The Department has made no commitments further than that stated above. You are requested to try so far as possible discreetly and informally to follow the negotiations and to keep the Department informed, but you will not participate in the negotiations.

  1. A. C. Bedford, chairman of the board of directors, Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey.