783.003/149: Telegram

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

8. Your 5, January 17, 10 a.m. It is observed that the Egyptian Government proposes to terminate the capitulatory régime by the conclusion of a multilateral convention. You will appreciate it would probably be impossible to negotiate such a convention and obtain the approval of the Senate thereto during the present session of Congress, and that at least a year would elapse before the convention could be brought into force in so far as the United States is concerned. Yet the second paragraph of your despatch 878, December 28,3 appears to indicate that the Egyptian Government contemplates the termination of the capitulations as early as May 1, 1937.

Possibly the Egyptians have in mind including in the convention a provision by which certain articles, or even the whole convention, would enter into force upon the date of signature and prior to the exchange of ratifications, as was done in the case of the Straits Convention signed at Montreux last summer by Turkey and other Powers.4 Any such provision would be difficult, if not impossible, for this Government to accept.

On the other hand, the Egyptians may envisage the early surrender by the Powers, by executive action, of limited portions of their capitulatory rights, such as the financial capitulations, it being understood that the judicial capitulations would not be altered until the proposed convention entered into force after due exchange of ratifications.

In any case the Department wishes to avoid being placed in a position of appearing to be obstructive at the forthcoming conference and desires to take such steps as may be necessary to enable its delegation to meet any reasonable proposals that may be made by the Egyptian Government in so far as that is possible within the framework of our constitutional limitations.

The Department would appreciate receiving at your earliest convenience any information you may be able discreetly to obtain, without consulting the Egyptian authorities, concerning Egyptian intentions in this regard in order that plans may be made, if necessary, to obtain any legislative enactments that may be required.

Upon receipt of this information the Department will instruct you further with respect to the nature of the reply to be made to the Egyptian invitation.

  1. Not printed.
  2. For correspondence, see Foreign Relations, 1936, vol. iii, pp. 28 ff.; for text of convention, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. clxxiii, p. 213.