The Chargé in France (Wilson) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 17.]
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the Department’s instruction No. 1417 of July 22, 1936, directing the Embassy to report any action which may have been taken in accordance with the Department’s instruction No. 1293 of April 27, 1936, relative to the inclusion of the subject of archaeological activities in Syria among the questions being discussed during the current negotiations at Paris between the Syrian Delegation and the French Government.
Upon receipt of the Department’s instruction of April 27 an officer of the Embassy called upon an official of the Sous-Direction d’Afrique et de Levant at the Foreign Office and left with him an aide-mémoire stating, in effect, that eminent American archaeologists had brought to the attention of the Department their anxiety over rumors tending to indicate that certain restrictions might be placed upon archaeological activities in Syria in consequence of the current negotiations in Paris between the Syrian Delegation and the French Government, and that in view of the great interest of American archaeologists in this subject the Embassy had been directed to inquire informally of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs whether in fact the question of archaeological activities in Syria or the revision of the Antiquities Law in Syria were included among the questions to be discussed during these negotiations. At the same time the officer left with the Foreign Office a summary of the pertinent statements set forth in the first enclosure to the Department’s instruction of April 27.
The official of the Foreign Office stated that archaeological excavations in Syria were in fact included among the subjects discussed with the Syrian Delegation at present in Paris and that he was very glad to have an expression of interest in the subject from the American Government as he had had similar inquiries from the British and the Belgians and that these exhibitions of interest in the matter by foreign governments would strengthen the hand of the Foreign Office in its negotiations with the Syrian Delegation. He said that the French Government was insisting upon the maintenance of the present regulations for an additional period of twenty years and upon the maintenance of a French citizen in the position of Director of Antiquities.
Upon the receipt of the Department’s instruction of July 22 an officer of the Embassy again called at the Foreign Office and was informed that an agreement had not yet been reached upon the question of archaeological activities in Syria, but that the French Government intended to maintain its position of retaining the present regulations without material change.[Page 486]
The official of the Sous-Direction d’Afrique et de Levant expressed considerable impatience with the difficulties which had been encountered in connection with these negotiations which constantly appeared to approach termination but could not be completed because of new and impossible demands on the part of the Syrians. Although he would not go into detail regarding the difficulties being met, he said that the points giving the most trouble were the protection of the minorities and the related subject of stationing French troops in Syria. He was sanguine that these matters would be settled eventually and promised to inform the Embassy when the negotiations had been completed.
It appears that upon the completion of the negotiations here the Syrian Delegation must return to Syria and go before the country in general elections, after which the Government which is established will proceed towards the negotiation of a treaty with France based upon the agreements which have resulted from the present negotiations.
[The subject of archaeological activities was included in the treaty negotiations. It was agreed to continue the present regime in regard to archaeological studies and research in Syria and the Lebanon. See French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Rapport à la Société des Nations sur la situation de la Syrie et du Liban (Année 1936), page 221, for Exchange of Letters No. 7, December 22, 1936, between France and Syria, and page 243 for Exchange of Letters No. 7, November 13, 1936, between France and the Lebanon.]