On this day August 31, 1907

Russia and Great Britain signed the Anglo-Russian Entente, defining their respective spheres of interest in Persia, Afghanistan, and Tibet.

1907 Map

1907 Map

The accord was signed on 31 August 1907 in St. Petersburg by Count Alexander Izvolsky, Foreign Minister of the Russian Empire, and Sir Arthur Nicolson, Britain’s ambassador in Russia.

The convention primary aim was to resolve the long-running disputes over the powers’ respective imperial peripheries, though it also served their broader diplomatic objectives by helping to provide a counterweight to German influence.

The Anglo-Russian Entente along with the Entente Cordiale (1904) and the Franco-Russian Alliance (1892) formed the so-called Triple Entente between the UK, France and Russia.

The convention had three sections, dealing with Persia, Afghanistan and Tibet.

  • Persia was divided into three zones: a British zone in the south, a Russian zone in the north, and a narrow neutral zone serving as buffer in between. (The Convention was very careful not to call any of these zones a sphere of influence, for fear it would look like the Great Powers were partitioning Persia.)
  • As regards Afghanistan, Russia recognized the country as a semi-protectorate of Great Britain and “abandoned its earlier efforts to establish direct relations with the emir”.
  • Following the British expedition to Tibet, both powers agreed to maintain territorial integrity of this buffer state and “to deal with Lhasa only through China, the suzerain power”.

The accord concerning Persia, which had 5 articles, was signed without the participation or knowledge of the Persian government, and was thus eventually met with a bitter response from Iran’s parliament. Iran was officially informed of the Accord later, on 16 September 1907. Similarly, the Emir of Afghanistan refused to acknowledge the agreement concerning Afghanistan. Both China and Tibet government at Lhasa rejected the agreement concerning China and Tibet.

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