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This chapter focuses on all bodies of literature to retrace the role of diplomats in the war's onset and development. It considers the three sub-periods of pre-1914, 1914-1916 and 1917-1918. A complex of changes in the pre-war period marked the most significant transformation in the system since its origins. The outbreak of hostilities plunged diplomats into a new and disturbing world. In the first big wartime secret treaty, the Straits agreement of March-April 1915, Russia obtained promises that it could annex Constantinople and the Straits. The Quai d'Orsay and Foreign Office were slower to discuss European war aims, as Grey and Theophile Delcasse feared undermining diplomatic unity and domestic consensus. The peace conference offered the foreign ministries an opportunity to reclaim influence, but they largely failed to do so. After the war, major reforms took place in many foreign services and foreign ministries.
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