The British Embassy to the Department of State 70

H.M.G. and the Syrian Government are now ready to exchange notes providing for the termination of cases before the mixed courts on the basis of the existing pleading, in French, by a special panel of Syrian judges with mixed court experience. The application to British subjects in Syria of their national law in all cases of personal status would be provided for thereunder.

The United States and French Embassies in London were informed of this before final instructions were sent to H.M. Minister in Beirut [Page 790] and the French have now asked us to defer the conclusion of an agreement pending Anglo-United States-French consultation in Washington as to the nature of the guarantees we should seek regarding the status of foreigners in Syria. They consider the guarantees secured by the British very limited and state that the U.S. Government are themselves negotiating with the Syrian and Lebanese Legations in Washington,71 and are engaged in planning “a new judicial regime” in both countries.

H.M.G. do not want to delay the conclusion of the agreement with Syria indefinitely, and before taking further action have instructed the British Embassy in Washington to enquire of the State Department

Whether they see any objection to the proposed agreement.
What is the scope of the arrangement they are negotiating, and in particular whether it would provide any wider guarantees for foreigners than the British agreement.72

The French Embassy in London are thought to have suggested that the French Embassy in Washington might discuss the question with the State Department at the same time.

  1. Handed to the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Merriam) by the First Secretary of the British Embassy (Bromley) on September 19, 1946.
  2. The negotiations concerned a draft treaty of friendship, commerce and navigation with Lebanon. A draft treaty had been informally discussed by Mr. Wadsworth with Lebanese officials in 1945. On July 25, 1946, he formally handed a revised draft treaty to the Lebanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, pursuant to Department’s instruction of July 3. Protracted negotiations took place thereafter at Beirut and Washington but they did not eventuate in the signing of a treaty.
  3. At their conversation of September 19, Mr. Bromley indicated that as the matter was of some urgency, he would appreciate an oral reply to the two inquiries. Mr. Merriam replied “with reference to (a) that we saw no objection to the proposed agreement. Regarding (b), Mr. Merriam said that there had been no change in our position … and that the subject had been dormant since it was last discussed with the British Embassy”. (Memorandum of Conversation, September 21, 1946, by Mr. Colquitt of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs, filed under 890D.05/9–2146)