Press Statement on Defense Sites, by the Ambassador in Panama (Davis)1

“I am convinced that the basic interests of the Republic of Panamá and of the United States of America do not conflict, and that the [Page 671] security of this hemisphere depends to a large extent on the success of our relationships right here on the Isthmus. Our task therefore is a real challenge to the sincerity of understanding of the officials and the citizens of our two countries. Recognizing fully the seriousness of the responsibilities which rest upon us, I shall put forth every effort to promote and maintain that spirit of cooperation and friendly collaboration which made the construction of the Canal possible and which has marked our long and close association.

“As to the action of the Panamanian National Assembly last December in rejecting the defense sites agreement which had been signed by the Executive branches of the two countries, the United States Government accepted immediately and without question the wishes of the people of Panama as expressed by their representatives in the National Assembly, and withdrew from the areas which remained in use under the provisions of the former agreement. Since that date the United States Government has taken no further steps with respect to defense sites, and I have no instructions to reopen negotiations. It is the basic policy of my Government to respect the sovereign will of other nations and the action taken in this instance has been in keeping with that policy.

“The protection of the Canal is a practical matter that is a joint responsibility of our two Governments under the Treaty of 1936. Hence both countries have a common interest to be served which will cause them to consult together and adopt the measures that are necessary. I am confident therefore that public opinion in both countries will support such measures as our Governments may determine to be essential to insure the proper maintenance and protection of this waterway, which is of such vital importance to the security and well-being not only of our two nations but also of the entire hemisphere.”

  1. Transmitted to the Department under covering despatch 605, October 9, from Panama, printed on p. 676.