Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by the Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Henderson)


Mr. Michael Wright, Counselor of the British Embassy, called me by telephone this afternoon. He said that on the basis of such documents as were in the Embassy, the Embassy had come to the conclusion that the British Government had no intention of submitting to the United Nations the matter of the recognition of the independence of Trans-Jordan.1 The British Embassy was of the opinion that the British Government had taken the position that it was free to recognize the independence of Trans-Jordan without seeking the approval of the United Nations. The status of Trans-Jordan—so far as the United Nations was concerned—might be decided when Trans-Jordan applied for membership to that body.

Mr. Wright said that the British Government in the opinion of the Embassy envisaged three steps: (1) the recognition of the independence of Trans-Jordan; (2) the conclusion of a treaty between Trans-Jordan and Great Britain and (3) the application by Trans-Jordan for membership into the United Nations. The Embassy, however, was planning to ask the British Government informally whether its conclusions in this regard were correct.

Mr. Wright continued that before submitting the inquiry to the British Government it would be helpful for him to know what in my opinion the position of the United States might be with regard to the kind of treaty which Great Britain would enter into with Trans-Jordan. He understood that the Department in general did not look with favor upon the conclusion of treaties which would grant a great power a special position in the territory of a small power. He would [Page 795] like to know what kind of special privileges would be objectionable to the American Government. What stipulations in the agreement between Great Britain and Iraq,2 for instance, would the United States dislike seeing in agreement between Great Britain and Trans-Jordan? Was he correct in understanding that we would not like to have the British diplomatic representative in Trans-Jordan given a position of precedence over other diplomatic representatives?

I told Mr. Wright that I had no instructions in this matter and therefore I was not in a position to tell him with precision what the policy of the American Government might be. I believed, however, that my Government would look with disfavor upon any agreement between Great Britain and Trans-Jordan which would give the British diplomatic representative automatically precedence over the American diplomatic representative. Furthermore, I was inclined to believe that my Government would not regard with approval clauses which would obligate the Government of Trans-Jordan to give preference to British nationals in selecting foreign advisers. In my opinion, the Government of the United States would react unfavorably to the inclusions of any provisions which would discriminate against the United States in economic, commercial and cultural matters. Mr. Wright asked whether the United States would be likely to object to an agreement under which Great Britain would be permitted to maintain troops or perhaps a base in Trans-Jordan territory. I said that he had posed a rather difficult question; one which could not be answered without considerable study since it involved a variety of factors. It was possible, however, that if Trans-Jordan, without any pressure and of its own free will, should express a desire for the stationing of British troops in its territory and should enter into an agreement with Great Britain providing for the quartering of such troops in barracks, in bases, or otherwise, the United States Government would not register objection. Our position in general was that in the absence of an understanding, freely entered into, voluntarily given, foreign troops should not remain in the territory of an independent country against the will of that country.3

Mr. Wright said that he hoped to get more information from his Government with regard to its plans with respect to Trans-Jordan within a few days and that he would pass it on to me.4

  1. The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Bevin, in an address before the Eleventh Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on January 17, 1946, at London, had stated: “Regarding the future of Trans Jordan, it is the intention of His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom to take steps in the near future for establishing this territory as a sovereign independent State and for recognizing its status as such.” (United Nations, Official Records of the General Assembly, First Session. First Part, Plenary Meetings, p. 167)
  2. The Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of Alliance of June 30, 1930.
  3. Mr. Henderson sent a copy of this memorandum to the Secretary of State on March 4. In a marginal notation on the transmitting memorandum, Mr. Byrnes indicated his agreement with Mr. Henderson’s views.
  4. On March 15, the First Secretary of the British Embassy (Tandy) informed the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Merriam) of informal word from London that the treaty would not contain provisions giving a preferred position to the British representative to the Trans-Jordan Government or giving a preference for British advisers to that Government (890i.01/2–1346).