155. Letter From President Carter to General Torrijos1

My dear General:

As you know, the Senate is now approaching the end of its debate on the Neutrality Treaty. Although we expect the final vote to be close, we remain hopeful about the result.

We have made good progress since last September when you and I signed the Treaties. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee endorsed the Treaties by an overwhelming vote. In the Senate debate, we have fortunately been able to prevent any amendments to the Treaty other than the so-called “leadership” amendments to Articles IV and VI. These incorporate exactly the terms of the statement of understanding published after our conversation of October 14.2

In considering its Resolution of Ratification of the Treaty, the Senate will almost certainly attach a number of reservations, conditions or understandings reflecting certain of its concerns. We have made every effort and have been successful to date in ensuring that these will be consistent with the general purposes of our two countries as parties to the Treaty. I hope you will examine them in this light.

After approving the Neutrality Treaty, the Senate will move immediately to consider the Basic Panama Treaty. While there will be problems, I am hopeful that the outcome will again be favorable, and that the two Treaties combined will gain for our countries the advantages we had envisaged when we signed them last September.

I know that the long public discussion of the Treaties in the United States has involved difficulties for you and your country. It has been a necessary element in informing the American public of the reasons for negotiating the Treaties and the benefits they bring to both parties. We have made notable progress in this regard.

Thus, as matters stand today, we are approaching an important milestone. If all of us can continue to work patiently and constructively for the achievement of our objectives, I believe we can achieve the outcome we both desire—sound and equitable treaties in our common interest.


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, Chief of Staff, Hamilton Jordan’s Subject Files, Box 50, Panama Canal Treaties, 1977 (4). No classification marking.
  2. See Document 113.