138. Telegram From the Embassy in Panama to the Department of State 1
Panama City, October 17, 1972, 1645Z.
- Summary: Reply to Panamanian Foreign Minister should respond in kind to his informal and oral request to me of September 28 for support of Secretary of State. If informal written communication deemed essential so message conveyed correctly to Torrijos, communication could take form of talking points which I could leave with Tack. Action requested: Approval of modification of approach and talking points.
- Both Tack and Torrijos are thin-skinned and may react strongly and adversely to letter which contains veiled ultimatum (paragraph 14) that U.S. will call off treaty negotiations if Panama presses for SC meeting in Panama.
- I also have other problems with draft:
- It makes no reference to Tack’s oral request to me of September 28 for response from Secretary of State.
- Although it purports to be personal and private letter from me it is replete with “my government.” Nor is it my style and both Tack and Torrijos will readily recognize that it is not.
- It mixes overall US-Panamanian relations which are excellent with Canal Zone-Panamanian relations which are unsatisfactory. We have tried over years to keep two issues separate by naming separate team of Ambassadors to deal with treaty. Treaty issues color all our relations and in final analysis will overwhelm them unless we can resolve issues. But we should continue the effort to keep them separate and maintain best possible relations despite treaty issues.
- Finally it tends to foreclose President’s options to make personal approach later to Panamanian President by having me say now what President will do and by inviting Panamanians to publish President’s letter (para 16).
- I recommend that I call on Foreign Minister to present US reaction informally and as friend to his informal request for support on SC meeting. As overall reaction I could tell him quite frankly that I doubt Ambassador Boyd has thought through the damage proposal for SC meeting in Panama would do to United Nations and to US-Panamanian relations. I would make the points in the letter and leave the points in Spanish and English.