684.003/9: Telegram

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

208. Your 156, April 22, 2 [1] p.m. In a conversation with the Chief of the African and Levant Section of the Foreign Office this afternoon a member of the Embassy staff was informed that France also understands Ethiopia contemplates denouncement of the treaty and that France neither approves of Ethiopia’s freedom of action in customs matters nor of its withdrawal of the privileges of extraterritorial jurisdiction. The French Government however might favor an increase in the maximum duties from present rate of 10 percent to perhaps 15 percent provided Ethiopia would at the same time agree to putting article 7 in more modern form. The replacement of an Abyssinian jurisdiction by a responsible foreigner under the second paragraph of that article is one of the alterations France would like to make. The Foreign Office representative said that no formal representations have been made by France in the above sense but it is understood the Ethiopian Government knows this to be French attitude. In case the treaty is denounced the French Government would make energetic protest. Regarding your suggestion of joint consideration of the question the Foreign Office understands that at Addis Ababa the diplomatic representatives of the various interested Governments are now consulting with each other regarding the matter.

[Paraphrase.] The Foreign Office official expressed the opinion that the American Financial Adviser to Ethiopia4 is partly responsible for the desire of the Ethiopian Government for freedom of action in customs matters and is also making it difficult for French interests to negotiate some important contracts with that Government.

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Repeated to the missions at Addis Ababa, London, and Rome. [End paraphrase.]

  1. Everett A. Colson.