Memorandum of Telephone Conversation, by Mr. W. Tapley Bennett of the Division of Central America and Panama Affairs

Participants: Colonel O. H. Moore, Deputy Chief of Western Hemisphere Branch, War Department General Staff
W. T. Bennett—CPA

Colonel Moore telephoned in response to my earlier conversation with Colonel Gerety, during which I had inquired as to the Army Department’s reaction to the Panamanian proposal of a 10–10 period at Rio Hato (Embassy’s telegram no. 594 of October 1258).

Colonel Moore stated that he had discussed the matter with appropriate authorities in the Army and Air Force Departments and that their position is as follows:

As regards the Rio Hato site, a period of 10 years with unconditional option for an additional 10 is, in the opinion of the Army and the Air Force, no different from the outright 20-year term requested. Since even this possible revision represents an improvement in their view over the 15-year period discussed at one stage of the negotiations, they are willing to go along with it and do not anticipate any particular difficulties with the Congress or the Budget Bureau as a result of the change from a straight 20-year term. Colonel Moore said, therefore, that the Department has the “blessing” of the Army and Air Force in negotiating on the 10–10 basis. He remarked, however, that if the Department should consider further revision of the United States proposal to a 15-year term or to a period less than that, then the Army and Air Force would have to consider the matter with some care.

I made it clear to Colonel Moore that we were ascertaining their reaction in order to be able to transmit it along with ours to New York for the attention of the Secretary. I said that we would, of course, clear any proposed action with his Department before going ahead.

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