The Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray) to the Chargé in Iran (Engert)

Dear Van: Our latest information is that Dr. Dodds and Dr. Hutchins are sailing for Iran on the Export steamer scheduled to leave New York on October 28, so that they should reach Tehran not long after the receipt of this letter. We are confident, in view of your telegram no. 124 of October 18,5 that the Iranian authorities will be prepared to start discussions immediately after the arrival of the Mission Board’s representatives and that no time will be lost in getting the negotiations under way.

Your telegram above referred to, however, showed that the missionaries were not keeping the Legation currently informed as to their recommendations and communications to the Board in New York. The conflicting telegrams received by the Board from Tehran as to whether Dr. Dodds’ coming was or was not premature, and which led us to request your views by telegraph on October 16,5 have [Page 536] puzzled both us and the Board and we still do not know the background of this apparent vacillation. I cannot emphasize too strongly in this connection the desirability of the Mission keeping you abreast of all developments in regard to the transfer of the school properties. Without close cooperation between the Mission and the Legation in this respect, complications are bound to ensue which can only prove a hindrance to a final settlement.

This naturally raises the question of the extent to which you should assist the representatives of the Mission in their endeavors to reach an understanding with the Iranian Government. As a rule, it is not the policy of the Department to go out of its way in offering suggestions or advice to American interests abroad in the conduct of their affairs, and if a large American business concern were involved I should say that the rule applied as usual. However, we are fully aware of the inexperience, not to say the diffidence, of the missionaries in carrying out business negotiations with the Iranians, and in particular we realize that the turning over of their educational institutions is the most important problem which they have ever faced in Iran. I believe you would be justified, therefore, in extending to the Mission and its representatives, in their own protection, somewhat more than the ordinary measure of guidance.

I do not, of course, mean to imply that you should put yourself in the position of directing the policy to be pursued in the approaching discussions. You could, however, properly make yourself available for consultation and advice at all stages of the negotiations, and hold yourself in readiness to intervene at once in the missionaries’ behalf if the Iranians should show a disposition to take advantage of any weakness on their part. If any problem of unusual difficulty should arise, you could telegraph the Department and we could then seek the views of our legal experts. We should, of course, expect the Mission to keep you informed at all times of the progress made, and I believe that Dr. Dodds and Dr. Hutchins will cooperate to the fullest extent in this respect.

Sincerely yours,

Wallace Murray
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