544. Memorandum From Arnold Nachmanoff of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1 2

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  • Panama Canal Treaty Arrangements

We have received for approval the text of a draft letter from Ambassador Robert Anderson to Panamanian Ambassador de la Ossa from both the State Department (Tab A) and from Anderson. Anderson has submitted the text under cover of a letter to the President (Tab B) which raises broader issues relating to procedures for conduct of negotiations. This is being staffed for you in a separate memorandum. However, Anderson wants to give his letter to Ambassador de la Ossa on Friday because he will be unavailable for about 10 days thereafter. Since timing is important and the text is non-controversial (it has been cleared by State and Defense), I suggest that you approve the text of the letter on the President’s behalf.

You will recall that the Panamanians submitted a position paper to Anderson in late January outlining their opening position for renewal of Panama Canal negotiations. The Panamanian positions focused upon greater jurisdiction for Panama in what is now the Canal Zone, and a larger share of the direct and indirect economic benefits to be derived from the Canal. Their position recognizes US interests in the defense of the Canal and its efficient operation, and shows some willingness to work out mechanisms which accommodate those interests, Ambassador Anderson concludes that the Panamanian position provides an acceptable basis for continuing discussions.

Ambassador Anderson’s reply to Ambassador de la Ossa is designed to explore and clarify the Panamanian position. It reiterates the importance to the US of the defense and efficient operation of the Canal and suggests that further discussions and exploration be undertaken on the question of jurisdiction, the eventual construction of a sea-level canal, the question of economic benefits, and other points which both sides have raised.

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If you approve the text of Anderson’s reply on the President’s behalf, we will inform State that the President has approved the text of the reply and will be replying separately to Ambassador Anderson’s letter of 10 February, which raised other issues.


That you approve on the President’s behalf the text of Ambassador Anderson’s reply to Ambassador de la Ossa so that it can be delivered on Friday, February 19, 1971.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 792, Country Files, Latin America, Panama, Atlantic-Pacific International Ocean Canal Study Commission, Vol. 1, 1971. Secret. Sent for action. Haig initialed for Kissinger and initialed his approval for Kissinger. Attached but not published are Tabs A and B. Tab A is the draft letter to de la Ossa. Tab B is a February 10 letter from Anderson to Nixon. The final version of Anderson’s letter to de la Ossa was not found.
  2. Nachmanoff recommended that Kissinger approve for President Nixon the text of Special Representative for U.S.-Panama Relations Anderson’s reply to Ambassador de la Ossa. The letter states that for the United States the defense and efficient operation of the Canal are very important and suggests further discussions be held.