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

No. 238

Sir: There is enclosed for the Legation’s files a copy of your despatch of May 12, 1937, containing a report of the activities of the Capitulations Conference which met at Montreux, Switzerland, between April 12 and May 8, 1937, as well as of your own activities at that Conference in the capacity of American Delegate.

The Department has been gratified to observe that the Delegation was successful in obtaining, in accordance with its instructions, the guarantees which were regarded as essential to the safeguarding of American interests in Egypt. The Department is pleased to commend you and the Technical Advisers of the Delegation for the work accomplished in this respect.

It is noted from the concluding paragraphs of your despatch and from your comment under Article 11 of the Capitulations Convention that certain questions remain for consideration by this Government in connection with the instruments signed at Montreux. These include:

The option left to the High Contracting Parties under Article 9 of the Convention with regard to the exercise by their respective Consular Courts of jurisdiction in matters of personal status;
The redefinition in a Consular Convention of the immunities assured consular officers under Article 11 of the Convention. It is understood that the immunities which they possess at present “in respect of consular premises and in the matter of taxes, customs duties and other public dues” are granted them only until Consular Conventions are concluded and in any case during three years as from May 8, 1937;
The drawing up, in agreement between this Government and the Royal Egyptian Government, of a list of the American educational, scientific, medical and charitable institutions referred to in the letter to you of May 8, 1937, from the President of the Egyptian Delegation, as entitled, during the life of the Capitulations Convention or until the conclusion of a subsequent agreement, to the free exercise of their activities subject to certain stipulated conditions.

The Department is giving careful consideration to the question of the continued exercise after October 15, 1937, of the right given it under Article 9 of the Capitulations Convention to retain American Consular Courts in Egypt for the purposes of jurisdiction in matters of personal status, and the eventual negotiation of a Consular Convention44 and of a Treaty of Establishment. It is desired that you [Page 656] communicate at an early date an expression of your views on these subjects, together with information concerning the intentions in respect of them of the other interested Powers so far as it may be possible for you to ascertain them from your colleagues. It may be added for your information that consideration is likewise being given to the negotiation shortly of an Extradition Treaty with Egypt.45

With regard to the final paragraph of the letter of May 8, 1937, addressed to you by the President of the Egyptian Delegation, the Department desires that you enter into early discussions with the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs looking to the preparation of the contemplated list of American institutions in Egypt. You will, of course, understand that the list must receive the Department’s final approval before it may be considered definitive. In order that this list may be as inclusive as possible it is suggested that you may wish to consult not only with the American Consul General in Alexandria with that in view but also with the American representative on the Egypt Inter-Mission Council, American archaeologists resident in Egypt, as well as with representatives of the American Mission, the American University at Cairo, the Rockefeller Foundation, and any other American educational, scientific, medical and charitable institutions established in Egypt.

Very truly yours,

For the Secretary of State:
Sumner Welles
  1. See pp. 665 ff.
  2. See pp. 672 ff.