140. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

4091. Subj: SC Meeting in Panama.

Panamanian PermRep Boyd told Amb Bush at lunch Oct 23 that since Panamanian elections he has been notified he will remain as PermRep and told to continue pressing for SC meeting in Panama. Boyd plans to return to Panama Nov 4 to work out specifics of invitation [Page 265]to Council to meet in Panama including drafting of agenda item and arranging for physical facilities (e.g., translation facilities). One decision to be made in Panama is whether to issue invitation to present SC membership or wait for new Council.
Amb Bush reiterated US opposition to meeting. Subsequently Bush had occasion to share Boyd’s comments with Italian and UK PermReps. Vinci (Italy) said he had told Boyd present Council not able to bind its successors and thus invitation to present Council would be meaningless. Crowe (UK) reiterated his strong reservations about meeting which include concern about possibility of public demonstrations during meeting.
Later in day, Boyd approached Amb Phillips on same subject. He showed Phillips draft “comprehensive” agenda item which referred to problems of LA area without specifying them or identifying any particular focus for SC effort. When Phillips commented on vagueness of language, Boyd asked us to help him improve it. Somewhat nervously and awkwardly, Boyd implied that meeting in Panama was inevitable and that US ought, in its own interest, to come along gracefully and help make exercise fruitful or at least painless. Phillips rejoined that Boyd was putting cart before horse in attempting to invent agenda for meeting that should only take place if appropriate pre-existing agenda items, among other circumstances, made meeting desirable. Boyd reiterated his claim that “most SC members” favored meeting and once again asserted he was doing USG a favor in pressing for meeting that would “condition US public opinion” for fruitful negotiations on Canal issue. (Boyd readily admitted that Canal issue was real point of meeting, and seemed completely nonplussed when Phillips suggested that Boyd ought to bring this intent out into open in NY.)
Phillips reiterated US firm opposition to meeting and emphatically told Boyd he was dead wrong in judgment meeting could have beneficial effect on US public opinion. In course of conversation, Phillips also told Boyd that latter seemed to us to be over-estimating level of enthusiasm for meeting in Panama among SC membership and prospective membership.
Comment: USUN has encouraged Boyd to be open and frank re possible SC meeting in Panama and has made clear its intention to continue to deal frankly with him in context of good personal and official relations between US and Panamanian Dels in NY. We shall continue efforts to induce susceptible present and prospective SC members to attempt discourage Boyd. However, Boyd may have already passed his personal “point of no return”, as he has privately asserted he would “lose his credibility” with nationalist regime in Panama should he back down. (Amb Sayre may wish to have heart-to-heart talk with Boyd on latter’s return to Panama.) USUN continues to feel that meeting in [Page 266]Panama under present circumstances would be unfortunate from every point of view and recommends that Dept explore possibility for steps outside UN context to forestall irreversible commitment to meeting by Govt of Panama. In this connection, we have been counseled by two well-disposed LA reps here that at this point private message from “highest level of USG” to Torrijos only possible way to reverse Panamanian momentum. These same LA reps point out, moreover, that little time remains as once Panamanian initiative becomes public knowledge in LA, media pressures will force virtually all LA govts to support initiative.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, UN 3 SC. Confidential; Limdis. Repeated to Panama City.