434. Memorandum From the Representative to the Organization of American States (Linowitz) to President Johnson 1

SUBJECT

  • Panama Canal Negotiations

Bob Anderson called me today from New York in order to pass on this word:

At the Summit Meeting in Punta del Este, President Robles of Panama plans to talk to you about the progress in negotiations with reference to the Panama Canal matter. Bob Anderson feels that Robles will want to put pressure on you to speed up the discussions and negotiations.2 He suggests that you might want to take the play away from Robles by telling him at once that you have been pushing for carrying on the negotiations as speedily as possible and that your understanding is that good progress is being made.3

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Bob say that three point still remain unsettled in connection with the negotiations: (1) compensation, (2) how long the treaty should last, and (3) jurisdiction over personnel. He proposes that when Robles raises the question of compensation with you, you might want to point out to him that it would be difficult to have Congress accept a guaranteed revenue figure substantially in excess of the present $2 million per year, and that therefore it would be mutually advantageous to explore other ways of providing added revenue to Panama. (Bob proposed, for example, some tariff arrangements which might be favorable to Panama.)

The Panamanian Foreign Minister, Fernando Eleta, spoke to me about this situation a couple of times in Buenos Aires. I am not, however, close enough to the negotiations to comment on Bob Anderson’s suggestions, but I know he would be pleased to discuss them with you personally if you had a few minutes to do so before the Summit.

Sol M. Linowitz
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Panama, Vol. VIII, September 1966–May 1967. Confidential. A notation on the memorandum indicates Johnson saw it.
  2. Panamanian Foreign Minister Eleta made a similar request to Rusk when he visited Washington in January. (Memorandum of conversation between Rusk and Eleta, January 18; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1967–69, POL 33–3 PAN–US)
  3. According to a memorandum of conversation of a meeting between Gordon and Panamanian Ambassador Ricardo Arias, April 2, the Ambassador told President Johnson that President Robles hoped that all outstanding questions concerning the treaty negotiations “might be settled through direct presidential discussions” at the upcoming meeting in Punta del Este. Johnson replied that “both sides had good negotiating teams and there was no reason to ‘pass the buck’ to the Presidents at this time. He understood the importance of the time element, but thought that the negotiations could be pushed ahead rapidly by the negotiating teams themselves.” (Ibid., POL 33–3 CZ)