The Secretary of State to the Acting High Commissioner at Constantinople (Dolbeare)

No. 294


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… your attention is called to the Department’s telegram No. 282 of December 752 instructing you that in view of the evidence of substantial American interest in the Ottoman-American Development Company you could give it support without, of course, taking part in the negotiations of this Company.

For your confidential information, the Department desires to inform you that in view of the fact that there are competing American [Page 1199] concerns which may be interested in endeavoring to secure the same or similar rights in Turkish or former Turkish territory, it is imperative that the utmost circumspection and care be observed to avoid any action which might give the erroneous impression that this Government is particularly interested in the success of any one American concern as contrasted with any other. It desires that the field should be open to American firms which may be interested. If rights are legally acquired from a recognized authority it may be possible for this Government to accord more definite support but during the process of negotiation, while giving appropriate diplomatic assistance to American interests you should avoid taking any direct part in the negotiations or indicating a partiality or preference for any particular interest.

This situation may be made clearer to you if I add that during the past week the representative of the group of American oil companies, whose negotiations I outlined in my despatch No. 232 of September 1, 1922,53 requested the Department’s intervention through the Ambassador in London to secure the 20% American participation in the Turkish Petroleum Company. To this the Department replied that while it was interested in maintaining the national principle of the Open Door it could not take part in bringing about a particular business arrangement. Copies of this correspondence are enclosed.53

Shortly after this Mr. Samuel Untermyer called at the Department to state that he and other American business men were taking a direct interest in the support of the claims of the heirs of Abdul Hamid to oil and other rights in Turkey and Mesopotamia. While he did not then request definite support he stated that he would later present his views to the Department in further detail. Shortly after Mr. Untermyer’s call, General Goethals, Mr. Barnard, and Admiral Rousseau described to the Department their interests in securing the ratifications of the Chester project as indicated in the enclosed papers.53

In dealing with these three specific proposals the Department has made it clear that it would accord proper diplomatic support to American citizens and interests but that it played no favorites and could grant no special privileges to any one American company which it would deny to another.

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A copy of this instruction is being sent the American Mission at Lausanne.

I am [etc.]

Charles E. Hughes
  1. ibid., p. 980.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.