400. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson 1


  • Panama

Ralph Dungan tells me that he spoke to you about a proposal which Sterling Cottrell has made for the next step on Panama. Cottrell’s proposal was made to Tom Mann, and I have not yet had a chance to get Tom’s comment on it, but here it is:2

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We should announce our readiness to resume normal relations in the following language—or alternatively, and to me less effectively— we could have the OAS urge this course on both countries in closely parallel language:

“The Government of the United States proposes that normal relations with the Government of Panama be restored through the reestablishment of diplomatic relations. It also proposes that Special Ambassadors from each country be appointed to ascertain and examine all outstanding issues between the two countries and to prepare a joint recommendation to both governments as to how these issues can be resolved in fair and satisfactory manner.

“If the Government of Panama agrees, relations will be restored immediately and the Special Ambassadors will be appointed within 30 days thereafter.”

If you should wish to do this, it could be announced by Pierre3 after your OAS meeting this afternoon. My own instinct is still to wait a few days, but you may wish to turn discussion to a new proposal and away from the difficulties of recent days.

McG. B.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Panama, Vol. III, March 1964. Secret.
  2. The President and Bundy discussed the proposal on March 18. The President told Bundy “it appeals to me; I’m ready to do that—be glad to—go on, tell ‘em to do it.” Johnson also stated, “We’re anxious to resume relations, one; talk, two.” (Memorandum of telephone conversation between President Johnson and McGeorge Bundy, March 18, time undetermined; Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Tape F64.18, Side A, PNO 2)
  3. Pierre Salinger.