767.68119/51b: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Herrick )

344. Repeat immediately to London as Department’s 330 and Rome as Department’s 159.

Department desires you to hand a copy of the following communication, to be entitled “Aide Memoire”, to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, on Monday, October 30th:

“The Conference proposed for the purpose of drawing up a treaty of peace with Turkey will have primarily to deal with the problems resulting from the state of belligerency between the Allied Powers, Turkey, and Greece. The United States was neither at war with Turkey nor a party to the Armistice of 1918 and does not desire to participate in the final peace negotiations or to assume responsibility for the political and territorial adjustments which may be effected.

While maintaining this reserve in regard to certain phases of the Near East settlement the Government of the United States does not desire to leave the impression that it regards its interests as less entitled to consideration than those of any other Power, or that it is disposed to relinquish rights enjoyed in common with other powers, or proper commercial opportunity, or that it is unconcerned with the humanitarian interests involved.

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For the purpose of clarity certain subjects of particular American concern may be briefly summarized.

The maintenance of capitulations which may be essential to the appropriate safeguarding of non-Moslem interests.
The protection, under proper guarantees, of philanthropic, educational and religious institutions.
Appropriate undertakings in regard to the freedom of opportunity, without discrimination or special privilege, for commercial enterprise.
Indemnity for losses suffered by Americans in Turkey as a result of arbitrary and illegal acts.
Suitable provisions for the protection of minorities.
Assurances touching the freedom of the Straits.
Reasonable opportunity for archeological research and study.

This brief summary, while not exhaustive, may serve to indicate the general nature of American interests. To safeguard such interests and to facilitate the exchange of views the Government of the United States is prepared to send observers to the proposed conference if this action is agreeable to the Powers concerned. Without participating in the negotiations of the treaty of peace, these observers would be able to indicate this Government’s position in greater detail than is possible in this Aide Memoire and they could also inform the American Government of the attitude of other Powers in matters where there are mutual interests.

As the object in view in submitting this suggestion is the elimination of any possible cause of misunderstanding, it is considered appropriate to call attention to the attitude of the United States in respect to secret treaties and agreements. It is not felt that arrangements previously made with respect to Turkish territory, which provide for the establishment of zones of special commercial and economic influence, such, for example, as the Tripartite Agreement of 1920,6 are consonant with the principle of the equality of economic opportunity. It is assumed that the Allied Powers will not now desire, and do not now intend, to carry into effect previous arrangements of this nature.

The United States has no desire to take any action which might embarrass the Allied Powers in the proper effort to secure peace. It desires nothing which need conflict with the interests of other countries, if the principle of commercial opportunity for all nations is recognized at the outset. The United States has no intention of seeking for itself or its nationals a position of special privilege but it desires to protect its rights and to assure the Open Door. Finally it wishes to afford protection to its citizens who wish to continue the humanitarian work which has been carried on for generations in the Near East and is rendered more essential than ever by the present conditions.”

Acknowledge receipt.

  1. For text of treaty, see British and Foreign State Papers, 1920, vol. 113, p. 797.