711F.1914/9–346: Telegram

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

us urgent

465. Dept believes helpful present situation for you immediately issue press release as follows:

“Following the outbreak of the European conflagration which led to the recent war the Governments of the Republic of Panama and of the United States of America, conscious of their joint obligation, as expressed in the provisions of the 1936 Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, to take all measures required for the effective protection of the Panama Canal in which they are jointly and vitally interested, consulted together and signed the Defense Sites Agreement of May 18, 1942. Therein it was agreed that the temporary use for defense purposes of lands granted to the United States by Panama would [Page 1109] terminate ‘1 year after the date on which the definitive treaty of peace which brings about the end of the present war shall have entered into effect’.

No definitive treaty of peace has been signed. Notwithstanding, the United States in recognition of the temporary character of the occupation of defense lands made available by Panama consistently has undertaken to evacuate defense areas whose use is no longer considered essential. Of about 85 areas which were actually fully developed and occupied for any period of time, 64 have already been returned to the Republic. Arrangements for the return of others no longer required are well under way.

Because of the strategic character of the Panama Canal and current advancement in the effectiveness of new weapons and methods of warfare, it has become imperative to arrange for the local defense of the Canal through the maintenance of defense installations not restricted to the Canal Zone. To that end the United States has now requested further consultations on the negotiation of a new agreement with Panama to provide for the continued use of certain defense areas already held and the acquisition of a limited number of new sites. In this new negotiation the United States will recognize the principle of fullest respect for the sovereignty of Panama over its national territory.”

Dept would like release text press release simultaneously Washington. Should you consider inadvisable for any reason issue foregoing, or should you wish modify same, please telegraph soon as possible. You may find it necessary modify figures relative areas occupied and returned. Otherwise, telegraph exact hour you propose release in order simultaneous release may be made here.