The Chargé in Great Britain (Atherton) to the Secretary of State

No. 607

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s instruction No. 165 of August 18, 1932 concerning the agreement concluded on October 31, 1931, between the British and French Governments with regard to the frontiers of Syria and the Jebel Druze on the one hand and Transjordan on the other. As I stated in my despatch in reply, No. 341 of September 12, 1932,8 an Aide-Mémoire containing the Department’s views8 as outlined in this instruction was given on September 12 to the Foreign Office official concerned, who stated that a full reply would be handed to the Embassy after the necessary consultation with the appropriate British officials.

There are enclosed herewith copies of a Foreign Office note No. E 6256/15/89 of January 4, 1933 on this subject, together with its enclosures, copies of the Anglo-French Convention of December 23, 1920 and of the Protocol of October 31, 1931.

As reference is made in the Foreign Office note of January 4 to the [Page 1006] Embassy’s memorandum and letter of September 12, 1932, copies of these two documents are likewise enclosed for the Department’s records.9

A copy of this despatch is being furnished to the American Embassy at Paris, as instructed.

Respectfully yours,

Ray Atherton

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Simon) to the American Chargé (Atherton)

No. E 6256/15/89

Sir: I have the honour to inform you that His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have had under their consideration the memorandum which Mr. Cox10 left at the Foreign Office on the 12th September in regard to the agreement of October 31st, 1931 between His Majesty’s Government and the French Government concerning the frontiers of Syria and the Jebel Druze on the one hand and Transjordan on the other.

The view of the United States Government appears from that memorandum to be that the frontier settlement incorporated in the Anglo-French Agreement of October 31st, 1931, involved on the part of Transjordan a change in the previously existing frontier and consequently a cession of some territory previously within Transjordan, as well as the acquisition of territory not previously part of Transjordan; that an alteration in the area of the mandated territory is to be deemed to be a modification of the terms of the mandate, and thus to come within the provisions of Article 7 of the Anglo-United States Convention of December 3rd, 1924; and that it is consequently legally inapplicable to the United States and its nationals until the United States Government shall have assented thereto.
His Majesty’s Government note with appreciation from Mr. Cox’s letter of the 12th September that the United States Government have no desire to be obstructive in the matter of the new frontier between Syria and Transjordan and will probably have no occasion to raise objections to the frontier settlement when officially informed of its nature.
His Majesty’s Government for their part do not propose to embark on a discussion of the views contained in the memorandum of September 12th, since, without prejudice to the question whether this step is legally necessary, they are fully prepared to invite the United States Government to consent to the modified frontier and indeed they desire to take this occasion to do so.
The frontier between the British and French mandated territories in the Middle East was laid down in the Anglo-French Convention of December 23rd, 1920, a convention concluded before the date of the Mandate for Palestine. For various reasons it proved impossible to delimit or adopt in practice the line between Syria and Transjordan as therein defined. In 1931, however, His Majesty’s Government and the French Government agreed, subject to the approval of the Council of the League of Nations, upon a modified line to be delimited upon the ground by a Commission such as is provided for in Article 2 of the 1920 Convention. This agreement was embodied in a Protocol, signed by the High Commissioner of the French Republic in Syria and by the High Commissioner for Iraq, who had been entrusted by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom with the conduct of these negotiations, on October 31st, 1931. This Protocol was in due course submitted to the Council of the League of Nations by His Majesty’s Government and the French Government. The slight modifications which the Protocol introduced into the frontier, as laid down in the 1920 Convention, were, in the words of the Rapporteur to the Council of the League of Nations, “inspired by the desire not to disturb the populations in the exercise of their rights and customs, to increase security by facilitating administration, and to ensure, in the present and in the future, the security of the vital communications between Iraq and Transjordan towards the Mediterranean”. The agreement was approved by the Council of the League on January 30th last, as one which the Council had “every reason to believe to be in the interests of the populations under mandate”.
Copies of the Anglo-French Convention of December 23rd 1920, and of the Protocol of October 31st, 1931, to which reference has been made above, are enclosed herein.

I have the honour [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
G. W. Rendel
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Neither printed.
  4. First Secretary of Embassy in Great Britain.