The Secretary of State to the Minister in Egypt (Jardine)

No. 204

Sir: Reference is made to your despatch No. 400, dated February 4 [9], 1932, with which you enclosed a copy of Note No. 14 of February [Page 638] 4, 1932, from the Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs on the subject of American representation on the International Quarantine Board at Alexandria.

The Department has noted that in your opinion the Egyptian Government, while reluctant to make a new appointment to the International Quarantine Board so long as that Board retains its present international status, would be receptive to any proposals looking to the fullest possible cooperation between the Board as now constituted and the competent American authorities. The Department has accordingly been exploring, in consultation with the Surgeon General of the United States Public Health Service, the possibility of achieving the practical objects of representation on the Board by some informal method of collaboration between the Board and the American Public Health authorities.

As these efforts have not led to any solution, the Department desires you, in acknowledging on its behalf the latest Egyptian note on this subject, to make a complete reservation of the position of the United States Government in the matter. At the same time the Department wishes to take exception to the apparent contention of the Egyptian Government that a written undertaking, signed by the Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs and delivered to the American diplomatic representative at Cairo, acknowledged by the latter and subsequently confirmed by the Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs in a formal note, can be cancelled on the ground that it was not authorized by the Egyptian Council of Ministers.

Accordingly, unless you perceive some objection, the Department desires you to deliver the following note to the Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs, after having verified the specific references made therein. It is not desired that you convey to the Egyptian authorities any reference to the Department’s efforts to seek a solution through informal collaboration, as mentioned in the preceding paragraph, nor is it desired that after delivering this note you make any further representations to the Egyptian authorities on the subject without first obtaining the Department’s further instructions.

“In acknowledging your predecessor’s Note No. 14 of February 4, 1932, regarding American representation on the International Quarantine Board at Alexandria, I am instructed to state that my Government finds itself in some doubt as to the precise meaning intended to be conveyed by certain of the statements made therein. These statements would appear to imply that the Egyptian Government was seeking to contest the validity of an undertaking entered into by an Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs, on the ground that this undertaking was not authorized by the Council of Ministers. This contention appears to be advanced in spite of the fact that the undertaking in question was made in a formal written note, No. [Page 639] 40–3/10 (46), addressed to the American Chargé d’Affaires at Cairo on June 21, 1928, by an Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs,42 acknowledged by the Chargé d’Affaires by his note of August 24, 1928, and further confirmed by a formal written note, No. 40–3/10 (14),43 addressed by a succeeding Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs to the American Minister at Cairo on March 4, 1929.

“The American Government is reluctant to believe that the Egyptian Government, in its note under acknowledgment, actually intended to imply that a commitment made by an Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs is not valid, for if such were the case my Government would find itself under the necessity, before it could repose confidence in the statements and commitments made in any formal communication received through official channels from an Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs, of seeking to ascertain whether the Minister had in fact obtained in advance the approval of the appropriate Egyptian authorities. Such a procedure would be manifestly impracticable. My Government consequently assumes that the implication contained in the Egyptian Government’s note under reference is purely the result of an ambiguity of expression.

“Under the circumstances the American Government, in expressing its surprise and regret that the Egyptian Government has not yet seen fit to give effect to the commitment which it made in 1928, is under the necessity of making a complete reservation of its position with respect to American representation on the International Quarantine Board.”

The Department recalls the interest which the British Residency has in the past expressed in connection with this matter, and authorizes you, after delivering the foregoing note, to make a copy of it available to the Residency, together with a copy of the Egyptian note under acknowledgment.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
W. R. Castle, Jr.

[Action initiated by this Government in 1937 (883.12/77) brought no results. The Sanitary, Maritime and Quarantine Board of Egypt was abolished and its functions transferred to the Egyptian Ministry of Public Health by a Royal Decree of September 14, 1939, effective November 1, 1939 (883.12/90).]