The Secretary of State to the Consul General at Beirut ( Engert )
182. Your no. 387  September 28, 10 p.m. You are instructed to inform General Catroux in a written communication that his proclamation of September 27 has been brought to the attention of this Government and that while the United States, in accordance with its traditional policy, is in full sympathy with the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian and Lebanese peoples, this Government considers it necessary to remind not only the authorities who may assume responsibility for granting independence to Syria and Lebanon but also the [Page 789] Syrian and Lebanese authorities that the United States has certain treaty rights in the area which can not be abrogated or modified without the consent of this Government. Fundamental among these rights, as provided in Article 6 of the Convention between the United States and France signed at Paris on April 4, 1924, is that no modification in the terms of the mandate for Syria and Lebanon shall affect American treaty rights in the area unless such modification has been assented to by the United States. Termination of the mandate would constitute, of course, the most extreme modification possible. General Catroux is doubtless aware that Article 5 of the mandate for Syria and Lebanon, provides that the privileges and immunities of foreigners, including consular jurisdiction and the capitulations, shall at the expiration of the mandate be immediately reestablished unless those Powers which enjoyed them in 1914, including the United States, shall have previously renounced the right to their reestablishment. The United States has of course made no such renunciation. While the American Government has no reason to believe that the regime to be set up in Syria and Lebanon will make necessary the resumption of consular jurisdiction, it is necessary to recall the provisions of Article 5 of the mandate in any full consideration of the subject at hand.
You should inform General Catroux that your communication to him is made solely as a result of his public declaration and has no other purpose or significance than to invite attention to the treaty rights of the United States in Syria and Lebanon and to make a full reservation of those rights. Pending a clarification of the situation in the area, the United States does not consider that the circumstances existing at present offer a suitable occasion for this Government to enter into any negotiations for the conclusion of appropriate agreements covering relations between the United States and the area concerned.
Unless you perceive objection, please request General Catroux to bring the foregoing to the attention of the appropriate local authorities.
For your own information, you will find in the Department’s instruction to Paris, no. 734 of March 8, 1938,46 a copy of which was handed to Consul General Palmer and presumably placed in the Beirut files, a full discussion of the arrangements which we have had in mind to regularize our position in Syria and Lebanon in the event their independence is recognized.