199. Letter From President Carter to General Torrijos1

Dear General Torrijos:

In just one year’s time the two treaties which you and I have signed and solemnized will enter into force. We have affirmed that, as partners in a common purpose, our two countries want the period of transition which lies ahead to be smooth and effective. Making this a reality will require the dedication, foresight, and understanding of many individuals. Ambassador Moss will be assuming his duties at this particularly auspicious moment.2 He has my highest confidence in representing me as we work together at our common task.

I expect all United States Government officials associated with efforts to plan and implement the treaties to perform their tasks with [Page 485] flexibility and with political sensitivity. As they work with representatives of the Government of Panama, these officials will seek solutions to problems in the same spirit that led us to agreement last year.

In the months since you and I exchanged ratification documents for the Panama Treaties, representatives of our two countries have made a promising beginning in planning for treaty implementation. They have approached this task in good faith, as equals, and with a determination to overcome differences. I am confident that these contacts will be broadened and deepened during the next year, and that there will be full opportunity for consultation before decisions are taken in all matters affecting our mutual interest. Ambassador Moss and other U.S. officials are pledged to work closely with your representatives on this basis.3


Jimmy Carter
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders, Box 15, Panama: General Omar Torrijos Herrera 8/78–12/79. No classification marking.
  2. Moss became Ambassador to Panama on September 30.
  3. At the end of the letter Carter added: “P.S. Implementing the treaties will not be easy. You and I need to stay in close touch and to work in complete harmony during the next few months. Best wishes. J.C.” The Department of State and Aaron recommended that Carter send this letter to encourage Torrijos to shift his focus from Nicaragua back to the Canal and to provide Moss with a “handle for encouraging the American community in the Zone to consult more fully with the Panamanians and to work more closely with them.” (Memorandum from Aaron to Carter, October 4; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Box 38, Country Chron., Panama, 7–12/78)