Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray)

Subject: Recognition of Independence of Syria.

Participants: Mr. Barclay, Second Secretary, British Embassy
Mr. Murray
Mr. Allen

Mr. Barclay recalled the observations which had been made to him during his previous visit to the Division regarding the above subject, and said that his Embassy had telegraphed to the British Foreign Office that the State Department was hesitant regarding the formal recognition of Syrian independence due to (1) the legal procedure in the United States with regard to any action which might affect the rights enjoyed by formally ratified treaties and (2) the desire of the Department to have further information regarding the continuing priviledged position of France in Syria after independence had been granted.

Mr. Barclay said that the Embassy had now received a reply by telegram from London on the subject. In this telegram the British Government pointed out that the independent status intended for Syria involved a change in but not a termination of the mandate. As regards American rights in the area, the British Government referred to the fact that Syria acceded naturally to the obligations hitherto assumed in her name.

Mr. Murray said that the statement of the British Government that the present plans for the independence of Syria did not involve a termination of the mandate was surprising. He said that the Department had presumed that the British and Free French authorities intended that the mandate would be considered by them as terminated immediately, and referred to the following statement contained in a letter from General de Gaulle addressed to General Catroux on [Page 802] June 24, 1941 (reported in Beirut’s telegram no, 404, October 8, 10 a.m.):

“The mandate for which France was made responsible by the League of Nations in 1924 must come to an end. For this reason you will take as a starting point for the negotiations with the States of the Levant the Treaty of Alliance concluded with them in 1936. I take it upon myself to transmit to the League of Nations at the proper time the substitution in the Levant of the régime of the mandate by a new régime which will be in accordance with the purposes for which the mandate was created.”

Mr. Barclay said that the British Embassy, likewise, had not understood clearly whether it was intended to terminate the mandate until the receipt of the recent telegram from London. Mr. Murray said that he thought it possible that the British Government had revised its attitude on further consideration of the matter.

Mr. Murray suggested to Mr. Barclay that he give us an aide-mémoire on the subject, setting forth the further observations of the British Government. Mr. Barclay agreed to do so (the aide-mémoire received on November 18 is attached hereto62).

Wallace Murray
  1. Infra.