684.003/8: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Edge)1

156. The Minister Resident at Addis Ababa has reported that he learns on excellent authority that the Ethiopian Government contemplates denouncing in the near future the Franco-Ethiopian Treaty of January 10, 1908,2 Article 7 of which grants to France the privilege of extraterritorial jurisdiction. The United States and several other Powers receive similar privileges by virtue of most-favored-nation clauses of their treaties,3 but the whole extraterritorial structure is based upon the French Treaty. Although the Ethiopians are apparently desirous of freeing themselves from extraterritorial privileges they are even more anxious, for fiscal reasons, to regain freedom of action in customs matters, in which they are now restricted by Article 3 of the Treaty. The Department is inclined to the opinion that there is no objection to granting the Ethiopians freedom of action in customs matters so far as the United States is concerned, provided, of course, that American trade receives treatment not less favorable than that accorded to any third country. In view, however, of the present inadequacy of the judicial system in Ethiopia, the Department considers that it would be highly undesirable for the Powers enjoying extraterritorial jurisdiction to relinquish their rights in this respect.

Please discuss this question with the Foreign Office with a view to determining what, if any, steps the French Government proposes to take, in the event that the Treaty is denounced, to secure the continuance of such extraterritorial rights for French nationals in Ethiopia as may be considered necessary for their protection. If the opportunity is offered during the course of your conversation at the Foreign Office you may intimate that this Government would be disposed to [Page 218] consider favorably the possibility of consulting with the French Government and with the Governments of other Powers now enjoying extraterritorial rights with a view to seeing what action might be possible and desirable in order to safeguard such rights.

Please repeat to London and Rome with the request that the Embassies in those capitals similarly consult with the British and Italian Foreign Offices, respectively.

Please transmit copy of this telegram by mail to Addis Ababa. Also transmit copy of your reply and request similar action by Rome and London.

  1. See penultimate paragraph for instructions to repeat to London and Rome.
  2. Treaty of friendship and commerce, signed at Addis Ababa (known also as the Klobukowsky Treaty), British and Foreign State Papers, vol. ci, p. 997.
  3. For treaty of commerce between the United States and Ethiopia, signed at Addis Ababa, June 27, 1914, see Foreign Relations, 1920, vol. ii, p. 243.