711F.1914/9–2846: Telegram

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

confidential

515. Embtel 630, Sept 27 and despatch 2501, Sept 28.28 Ceremony attending return Chorrera base publicized in New York Times Oct 2. Dept feels acts this character have most salutary overall effect and commends Emb for initiative taken in planning this cooperative program with high Canal and Panamanian authorities.

With respect Depstel 499 of Sept 24 proposing as reply to FonMin’s note Aug 31 a statement setting forth this Govt’s interpretation termination date 1942 Defense Sites Agreement, Amb’s views on advisability avoiding this action have been considered carefully. However, FonMin formally has presented an interpretation to which this Govt cannot subscribe and if Panamanian note remains on record Dept, as matter of principle, must reply. Furthermore, failure to answer may be interpreted by Panamanians or by legalists or historians as acquiescence to FonMin’s viewpoint. This in turn would leave this Govt in position, after Sept 1, 1946 and until new agreement is signed, by occupying defense sites in violation of 1942 accord.

Therefore, you are requested inform Dr. Alfaro that unless he recalls note of Aug 31, Dept will (Deptstel 499) by formal communication set forth its views on termination clause. You should state that in so doing there is no intention making note public as he did Panamanian interpretation nor is there desire raise issue or debate difference of opinion. Main interest is set record straight and proceed negotiation new agreement. Should FonMin withdraw note, it will be unnecessary for you to deliver this Govt’s interpretation.

If after discussing foregoing with Dr. Alfaro he decides leave his note on record you will proceed immediately to present reply.

Proposed interim agreement (Embtel 630 Sept 27) appears as inefficient and unnecessary step in progress toward final agreement. It is believed continued return defense sites with appropriate publicity should creat sufficient favorable public opinion in Panama for two Govts go ahead simultaneously with negotiation of new accord, signing of which could be announced publicly, along with notice of termination of old arrangement. This publicity could come on or before date of return under 1942 agreement of last of sites which will not be required in new defense plan.

Acheson
  1. Latter not printed.