404. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson1


  • Panama

I have spoken with Tom Mann and set in train the negotiating process you authorized last night.2

Ambassador Bunker will be going to Moreno today and will make the following presentation:

We have made our statement;
You have made your statement;
Why don’t you resume relations at once?
If you resume, of course we will resume and send an Ambassador forthwith.

If the Panamanians accept this démarche, we are in. If they come back and ask questions about our view of the OAS two paragraph formula, then Bunker will come back to Mann, and Mann will instruct him to say that if the Panamanians wish to go this more complicated route, we would have to insist on minor modifications in the formula. Tom would then negotiate to get the Panama Canal and the word “negotiations” out of the two paragraphs. This second phase is not being discussed even with Bunker until we see how the first phase works.

In all this we are keeping the number of those informed as small as possible, and we are pointing out to the Panamanians that we can negotiate quietly to resume relations, or make our case to the newspapers, but we can hardly do both at once. But we do not kid ourselves that Moreno or his compatriots will be as quiet as we would like.

McG. B. 3
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Histories, Panama Crisis, 1964. Secret. Copies were sent to Mann and Dungan.
  2. See footnote 5, Document 403.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.