133. Telegram From the Embassy in France to the Department of State 1

18969. Subject: Possible Security Council Meeting in Panama. Ref State 181193.2

1.
Have just returned (accompanied by Pol Couns) from talking with Schumann re possible SC meeting in Panama. Schumann had a notetaker on his side. I asked him directly how committed he was. He replied “completely.” He said that at his dinner for Latin Americans, “all of them” asked him if France was prepared to support meeting in Panama, to which he replied “If all of you ask, why should France refuse?”
2.
Explaining you had intended raise matter with him directly, I went on and pointed out how seriously we viewed the matter of having the SC meet in a country with which we were having active negotiations and whose Permanent Representative stated that the purpose of having this meeting in Panama was to focus public attention in the US on the Canal issue. Schumann was completely stunned, stating that he had thought that Panama and the US were on the best possible terms and he had no idea we “had any trouble” with them. He immediately said “I must disentangle myself from myself. I have been uncautious and it will take time.” I also told him that if the French were having delicate negotiations with one of their former colonies such as Morocco and some country suggested that the SC meet in Rabat, they would find it as unpalatable as we find facing a possible meeting in Panama.
3.
Schumann was clearly upset, stating that he had had several excellent visits with you as well as a visit with the President and Dr. Kissinger. He stated that relations between our two countries have never been better and that he was extremely sorry that he had been so “uncautious.” He then stated that the Latin Americans at the dinner had cited the Addis Ababa meeting as the precedent for having the meeting in Panama. We of course pointed out to him inter alia that [Page 253]there had been active African matters on the SC agenda and it was the OAU that issued the invitation, not a single country. He went on to say that he had been against Addis Ababa meeting because of the precedents, and that the USG was very serious in seeking French support to prevent SC meeting in Panama.
4.
I took the liberty of suggesting various means for Schumann to reverse his position, along lines reftels, and he told me he would think it over and be in touch. If I don’t hear from him soon, I will contact him again early next week, unless you suggest otherwise.
5.
Comment: In all my dealings with Schumann I have never seen him so visibly shaken, concerned and apologetic.
Watson
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 SC. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated to USUN, London, Moscow, and Panama City.
  2. In telegram 181193 to Paris, October 4, the Department advised Ambassador Watson that Rogers had intended to discuss the Panamanian initiative with Schumann in New York, and urged him to arrange a meeting to explain U.S. objections to Security Council meetings away from headquarters. “Major powers must be concerned with precedent that would be established if country having an issue with one of them were to use its fortuitous membership on the SC, and its presidency of the Council in a particular month, to move that forum to a locality from which it can bring pressure to bear on a permanent member. This a point that we also intend to make to the USSR.” (Ibid.)