867.602 Ot 81/264½

Memorandum by the Secretary of State of a Conversation with the French Ambassador (Jusserand), April 16, 1923

Chester Concession.—The Ambassador said that he did not come to “declare war” or to make a formal protest, but he wished to call attention to the following facts: The concession had been granted to the French before the war covering the right to build certain railroads in Anatolia in consideration of a loan to the Turkish Government of a billion gold francs. The concession was completed and entirely valid. The French had loaned about half the money and had prepared to build the railroads when the war came on and everything was suspended. The French had felt that they had valid rights. The Ambassador said that he did not know to what extent there was a conflict. It might be only to a part of the railroad, but he understood a part of the Chester concession embraced the tracks which the French had already laid down. He thought there ought to be an amicable way of settling a matter of that sort. The Ambassador said that the French supported the Open Door principle but thought it was inconsistent with that principle that when a concession had already been granted it should be annulled and another concession granted on top of it. It might be that on such a principle at Angora or somewhere else the American concession might be annulled. He hoped that the two Governments would be able to find some way of working together in the matter.

The Secretary said it seemed to him advisable in the first instance to get at the actual facts. He would like to know just what the French concession was and to what extent there was an actual conflict. [Page 1205] Then there would likely be legal questions which should be considered. The Secretary said he had not yet complete information with regard to the Chester concession and was not in a position to speak regarding it, but he could assure the Ambassador, however, that if the Ambassador would supply a memorandum with regard to the facts of the case and any legal questions that were involved it would receive careful examination in the Department.

The Ambassador said that he would like to be able to inform his Government that there would be a disposition on the part of the American Government to cooperate in the matter. The Secretary said that the American Government was not the grantee of the concession; that there were private interests who had received it. The Secretary said he did not know exactly what would be the attitude of these interests, but he supposed it to be not improbable that they would be glad to have some basis for a friendly settlement. However, he could not commit them upon that point. The Ambassador said that he would endeavor to get full information for the Secretary.