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

No. 2591

Sir: With reference to the Department’s Instruction No. 1173 of January 17, 1936, with respect to customs privileges for American educational and philanthropic institutions in Syria, I have the honor to report that this entire matter has the earnest attention of the Embassy.

Since the receipt of the Department’s Instruction under acknowledgement, renewed formal and informal representations have been made to the Foreign Office, and this morning, Mr. Marriner, Counselor of the Embassy, had occasion to discuss the question with M. Chauvel of the Africa-Levant Division of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. A copy of a memorandum of their conversation is transmitted herewith. Mr. Marriner expects to meet M. de Martel, the French High Commissioner, who is due in Paris toward the end of this month and will at that time endeavor to hasten a satisfactory settlement of the matter of customs immunity for American institutions in Syria.

Respectfully yours,

Jesse Isidor Straus

Memorandum by the Counselor of Embassy in France (Marriner)

M. Chauvel, Secretary of Embassy in the African and Levant Division at the Foreign Office, came to see me this morning to return my call and to discuss the question of the customs privileges of American educational and philanthropic institutions in Syria and the Lebanon.

I told him that it seemed to me that the affair had resolved itself into a question of principle and that if a principle could be established, namely, that the French Government cannot unilaterally withdraw or impair those privileges and rights granted under treaties, [Page 476]should France ask the American Government’s consent to a certain series of modifications of the practice which existed prior to such unilateral action, no doubt some arrangement might be worked out.

M. Chauvel said that the details of an arrangement would certainly have to be worked out on the spot in Syria, since there, one had the representatives of the injured parties.

I told him that, while that might be the case, I was most anxious before I went out there to have the matter of principle settled, and as at the present moment France was protesting with all its might against a unilateral action by Germany in violation of treaties, I did not think the French would wish to be proponents of any other policy in one of its mandates.

M. Chauvel said that M. de Martel, the High Commissioner, was arriving in Paris on March 25th, and that he would be glad to arrange for him to see me at that time when perhaps in a conference something might be brought to a head.

I said that for this and for other reasons I would be glad to see the High Commissioner.

Theodore Marriner