890g.6363 T 84/69

The Secretary of State to the President of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey (W. C. Teagle)

My Dear Mr. Teagle: I beg to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 22nd instant confirming an exchange of telegrams with your representative in London with regard to oil rights in Mesopotamia and the principle of the Open Door. I understand that Mr. Wellman has had telephone interviews with Mr. Dulles in which further inquiries have been made. Referring to these inquiries permit me to say:

The position of the Department has already been fully set forth and I do not see how it can be misunderstood.

This Government does not recognize the claim of the Turkish Petroleum Company to a concession in Mesopotamia as valid, and the reasons for this position have been set forth in our correspondence with the British Government. It has also been suggested that in case rights are asserted under this alleged concession, the Department would favor an appropriate arbitration of the merits of the question.

This Department cannot concern itself with any efforts that may be made to obtain a confirmation of the concession from any government competent to give such a confirmation. In case a confirming grant were made the Department’s attitude with respect to it would be precisely the same as it would be in relation to any other grant. The grant might be contested or it might not be contested; it might have been validly made or there might be questions relating to its validity. If there were a contest or questions raised as to its validity, these, unless palpably without foundation, would of course have to be decided by some competent tribunal. The Department could not undertake to be that tribunal, and in case there were competing American interests and a claim urged on one side and denied on the other, the Department of course could not attempt [Page 352] to take sides in favor of one American interest against another. This is familiar policy.

The effort of the Department is to maintain the Open Door and suitable opportunity for American enterprise. It is left to the American companies and individuals who are interested to take advantage of the opportunities that are offered and to promote their interests in any proper way. The Department is always willing and desirous of giving proper diplomatic support to American interests, but if there are questions underlying the title and competing American claims, you will readily understand that this Government cannot associate itself with one set of American claims as against another. In such matters it would desire a prompt and effective disposition of claims by competent tribunals.

Sincerely yours,

Charles E. Hughes