The Secretary of State to the Minister in Latvia (Coleman)

No. 539

Sir: I transmit herewith the President’s instrument of ratification51 of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Consular Rights between [Page 225] the United States and Latvia, signed at Riga on April 20, 1928, for exchange by you for a similar instrument of ratification of the Treaty by the President of Latvia.

I enclose herewith the President’s full power52 authorizing you to effect the exchange. At the time of making the exchange a protocol attesting the exchange should be signed by you and the Latvian Plenipotentiary in duplicate, one signed copy of which you should forward to the Department, the other being retained by the Latvian Plenipotentiary. A copy of the form of protocol of exchange used at Washington is enclosed for your convenience.52 Before effecting the exchange you should satisfy yourself that, with the exception of the observance of the alternat, the text of the Treaty as contained in the Latvian instrument of ratification is in exact conformity with the text of the Treaty as incorporated in the United States ratification.

Upon the completion of the exchange you will please promptly advise the Department by cable of the date on which the exchange took place and the date of the Latvian instrument of ratification in order that the Treaty may be promptly proclaimed by the President.

With respect to the promise you obtained from the Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs, reported in your No. 5237 of April 21, 1928, that the Latvian Government would make administrative arrangements whereby consular officers of the United States in Latvia will receive the benefit of free entry of personal property during their incumbency on the ground that Latvian consular officers in the United States would be accorded this privilege under the most-favored-nation provision of Article XXVII, I desire to point out that it is and has long been the policy of this Government to construe the most-favored-nation clause in respect of consular privileges and immunities and in particular in respect of fiscal concessions to consular officers as conditioned on reciprocity.

The condition of reciprocity has been insisted upon by this Government in instances in which foreign Governments have relied upon a most-favored-nation provision to obtain in behalf of their consular officers in the United States the benefit of the particular privilege of free entry in the Treaty between the United States and Germany.

This Government would apply the same rule of construction to the most-favored-nation clause as agreed to in Article XXVII of the Treaty with Latvia. It would not construe the most-favorednation provision as embracing the specific privilege of free entry of personal property of consular officers during their incumbency, which Latvia objected to including expressly in the Treaty, and as obligating the United States to accord this privilege to Latvian consular [Page 226] officers in the United States, unless the same privilege is in fact accorded to consular officers of the United States in Latvia.

In view of the different interpretation which you placed on the most-favored-nation provision in Article XXVII, the Department regrets that you did not ask for instructions before addressing your note of January 7, 1928, to the Latvian Foreign Office.53

The Department would be glad to have you make to the Latvian Foreign Office the foregoing explanation of this Government’s construction of the most-favored-nation clause and withdraw your note of January 7, 1928, before you make the exchange of ratifications.

This Government will be glad to accord the privilege of free entry of personal property during their incumbency to Latvian consular officers in the United States by administrative action whenever it receives assurances from the Latvian Government in writing that the same privilege will be accorded to American consular officers in Latvia.

I am [etc.]

Frank B. Kellogg
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