The Consul at Beirut (Steger) to the Secretary of State
[Received November 16.]
Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s telegraphic instruction of November 1st, 5:00 P.M., and to my telegraphic replies of November 2nd, 12:00 M., and November 3rd, 11:00 A.M., with regard to the effect upon American citizens of Syrian and Lebanese origin of the Franco-Turkish agreement of May 29, 1937. In this connection reference is made also to the Department’s instructions of September 27, 1937,18 and of October 7, 1937.
It is believed that the Consulate General’s despatches Nos. 278 of September 13th, 288 of September 22nd, 291 of October 5th, and 307 of October 28th19 will reach the Department before the present communication, and will contain such comment as may be required upon the effect of the agreement mentioned.
Nevertheless, in view of the apparent misunderstanding of the situation which exists among certain French consular officers in the United States, as described in the Department’s instruction of October 7th, I called yesterday afternoon at the French High Commission and discussed the matter at some length with M. de Sandfort, Chief of the Diplomatic Bureau, who is the official directly concerned with the question of options under the agreement of May 29th.
As soon as I described briefly to M. de Sandfort the situation as explained in the Department’s instructions referred to above, he declared emphatically that he concurred with my views, and that he did not understand how any consular officer of France in the United [Page 936] States could be ignorant of the fact that the provisions of the Gouraud-Knabenshue Agreement create for American citizens of Syrian origin a situation entirely different from that of Syrian emigrants naturalized in other countries. He gave a categorical statement that the High Commission had every intention of continuing to recognize the American nationality of Syrian-born American citizens, and of assuring to them all rights which may be enjoyed by other citizens of the United States. He furthermore declared that he would report the situation as described by me to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the next air mail, and would request that additional instructions be sent to French consular officers in the United States for the purpose of making clear to them the fact that the Gouraud-Knabenshue Agreement guarantees to naturalized Americans of Syrian origin rights which are not recognized in the case of naturalized citizens of other countries.
M. de Sandfort also promised that he will, in the near future, send to the Consulate General an official communication reiterating the assurances which he gave to me verbally.
I trust that this statement will reassure the Department as to the attitude of the French authorities and will, together with the previous despatches mentioned above, constitute an adequate reply to the several instructions received from the Department on this subject.