The Acting Secretary of State to the Secretary of the hiArmy (Royall)
My Dear Mr. Secretary: The Department has given careful consideration to your letter of October 28, 19481 expressing the joint views of the Departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force with respect to a new defense sites agreeement with the Republic of Panama. Your statement has been noted to the effect that the Joint Chiefs of Staff have established a requirement for defense bases in Panama and have enumerated, in general terms, the provisions that should be included in a defense sites agreement with the Republic of Panama in Joint Chiefs of Staff 570/71 and Joint Chiefs of Staff 570/74.2 It has been further noted from your letter that the National Military Establishment does not believe that this Government should now approach the Panamanian Government concerning a new agreement.
As you will recall, the Joint Chiefs of Staff papers referred to above were prepared in 1946. The Department considers that the experiences [Page 704] of the recent defense sites negotiations with the Republic of Panama, covering some eighteen months during the years 1946 and 1947,3 provide strong evidence that this Government cannot hope to negotiate successfully with Panama on those earlier terms. The Joint Chiefs of Staff papers under reference included certain provisions, particularly those concerning time periods of site occupancy, not considered capable of negotiation under present conditions.
The Department is prepared to undertake conversations with the National Military Establishment concerning desirable provisions to be embodied in a possible new agreement if the latter so desires. On the other hand, the National Military Establishment may prefer to defer action until such time as it considers the establishment of defense sites in territory of the Republic of Panama outside the Canal Zone of sufficiently urgent necessity as to require an approach to the Panamanian Government. In the latter event, a re-appraisal of suitable provisions for an agreement may be made on the basis of needs and circumstances as they may exist at that time.
The Department would appreciate receiving an expression of your views in the premises, since there are indications that this Government may shortly be approached officially by the Government of Panama with a view to entering into negotiations on defense sites.
In this letter Secretary Royall, speaking in behalf of the National Military Establishment, had said in part:
“The Joint Chiefs of Staff have established the requirement for defense bases in Panama and have enumerated, in general terms, the provisions that should be included in a defense site agreement with that country. This information is contained in Joint Chiefs of Staff 570/71 and Joint Chiefs of Staff 570/74, copies of which you have previously received. In addition to the sites listed in these references, it is now agreed that additional sites will be needed at Anton, Jicarita Island, and Montuosa Island.
The National Military Establishment does not believe that this Government should approach the Panamanian Government concerning a new defense sites agreement. However, if the Panamanian Government reopens the subject and indicates a sincere desire to consummate such an agreement, it is believed that this Government should favorably entertain such a proposal.
The National Military Establishment is prepared to assist you, at your convenience,’in the preparation of a proposed draft agreement; such a draft to be formulated within the provisions outlined in reference Joint Chiefs of Staff documents.” (711F.1914/10–2848)↩
- Neither printed.↩
- For documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1946, vol. xi, pp. 1095 ff.; ibid., 1947, vol. viii, pp. 881 ff.; and ibid., 1948, vol. ix, pp. 664 ff.↩