19. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1

1. Panama Canal Negotiations: Ellsworth and Sol briefed me today on their exploratory talks with the Panamanians on a new treaty. They reported having extensive discussions primarily on the treaty’s duration, the formula for guaranteeing the Canal’s neutrality and the nature of post-treaty arrangements for the Canal’s security. While the talks probed these issues more deeply than at any time in the past, the two delegations reached no agreement. I said to Ellsworth and Sol that I felt we should stand firm as our position is a sound one.

Ellsworth and Sol are preparing a report to you which will include a proposed reply to the message to you from General Torrijos.2 After reporting to you, and subject to your concurrence, I suggested that they meet the press in order to report some progress while noting that significant differences remain on the major treaty issues.3 In addition, I recommend that they hold meetings with selected Congressmen and then call on several Latin American leaders in order to gain support for a reasonable settlement of the issue.

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Panama.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 17, Evening Reports (State), 2/11–28/77. Secret. Carter initialed the memorandum and wrote: “Cy.”
  2. See Document 20. A copy of the suggested reply from Carter to Torrijos is in the Department of State, Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, Office of the U.S. Permanent Mission to the OAS, Einaudi Country Files, 1977–1989, Lot 91D371, Box 6, Panama 1977.
  3. Carter wrote: “ok” in the left margin. No record of the meeting with the press has been found.