711F.1914/9–346: Telegram

The Ambassador in Panama (Hines) to the Secretary of State

secret

555 B. Reference Embtel 554, September 1 giving text of note from Foreign Minister on defense sites. I handed following reply to Foreign Minister September 3.

NR. 260, September 2; Excellency: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Your Excellency’s very comprehensive and courteous note NR D P 3235 of August 31, 1946,13 in reply to my note NR 259 of August 29, 194614 with reference to the vitally important question of the defense of the Panama Canal and defense sites made available temporarily to my Government under the Defense Sites Agreement entered into May 18, 1942.

I appreciate the completeness and frankness with which Your Excellency outlines the position of the Government of Panama with respect to the interpretation of article 1, section 1, as well as the bearing of article 5 of the same agreement, in regard to the terminating date of such agreement. In view of the fact that the Secretary of State, as indicated in your note, expressed himself with reference to the interpretation of the agreement, I feel that it is important that comment with reference to that phase be deferred until I have had an opportunity of presenting your views to the Dept of State.

I am very much gratified at the cooperative attitude expressed on the part of the Government of Panama by Your Excellency with reference to the further consideration of this vitally important matter—our joint responsibility for the defense of the Panama Canal and I note the willingness on the part of the Republic of Panama to enter into further consultations with reference to a new agreement between our governments in order that both countries may be fully assured of the protection of the Canal and its relationship to the defense of the hemisphere and its bearing upon the future maintenance of peace.

I note the desire on the part of the Government of Panama to have presented the reasons that causes my Government to feel the urgency of the discussions of this subject under the final part. I will be prepared to present to Your Excellency for the consideration of the [Page 1108]Government of Panama the impelling reasons why we feel it necessary to ask for the continued use of certain sites and further consideration of the future defense of this particular area of article I of the Defense Sites Agreement. I am also glad to know that Your Excellency concurs in the views expressed in my note above referred to that existing international conditions are such as to justify further consultations between our Governments relative to the security of the Canal. I will also be prepared to give evidence of a technical nature which the Government of the United States believes will justify our concern relative to such defense.

With reference to Your Excellency’s comment in regard to the lateness to which my Government has called to your attention the necessity for further consultations on the matter of the efficient protection of the Panama Canal, I feel I should call Your Excellency’s attention to the fact that the development during World War II of new weapons of defense and new military technique regarding their use has resulted in a rather prolonged and exhaustive study of the defense needs as they relate to this particular area and it is with deep regret that I have not been in a position to present to Your Excellency’s Government the results of this study in order that consultations could have taken place earlier. I am sure as this matter is presented to Your Excellency’s Government, it will be fully realized that the importance of the most careful and painstaking study of the subject cannot be overemphasized.

Your Excellency is aware that for some time the military authorities have been returning defense sites as rapidly as the need therefore no longer existed and in pursuance of that policy some 65 sites have been returned and I am advised by the military authorities that some 34 more are in preparation for early return.…

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Hines
  1. Quoted in telegram 554, September 1, 1946, from Panama, p. 1103.
  2. Not printed.