201. Memorandum of Understanding1


The entry into force of the Panama Canal Treaty will significantly change the environment and the purposes of U.S. Government activity in the Republic of Panama. In particular, a major new responsibility of the United States will be to assist Panama to prepare for its stewardship of the Panama Canal. In this regard, all agencies of the U.S. Government in Panama will conduct their activities in full consideration of their impact on U.S. relations with Panama. Effective implementation of the Treaty will require consultation among U.S. agencies operating in Panama and full cooperation in the coordination of the policies and activities of these agencies.

The Panama Review Committee (PRC), established pursuant to NSAM No. 2962 and NSDM 22,3 will continue to serve as the principal forum in Panama for such consultation and coordination. Upon entry into force of the Treaty, the PRC will be composed of the Ambassador to Panama, USCINCSO, and the Administrator of the Panama Canal Commission. The PRC shall be chaired by the Ambassador, and will meet periodically or at the request of any member.

The PRC shall be the forum for the exchange of reports and information, and for the coordination of actions and proposals relating to the implementation of the Panama Canal Treaty, as they bear upon United States/Panamanian relations. The members will endeavor to resolve promptly in Panama any differences which may arise between them, and, if necessary, will refer such matters through appropriate channels to Washington.

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In order to ensure that U.S. activities in the Republic of Panama in implementation of the Panama Canal Treaty are effectively coordinated, the following instructions shall apply:

—The statutory responsibilities of the Ambassador are set forth in P.L. 93-475, dated October 26, 1974, (22 U.S.C. 2680a). The statutory responsibilities of the Ambassador and the Administrator also will be prescribed in Sections 102 and 207 of the legislation implementing the Panama Canal Treaties.

—Pursuant to Presidential Guidance, the Administrator, as Chief Executive Officer of the Panama Canal Commission, subject to the direction and supervision of the Board of Directors, executes the responsibility of the Commission with respect to the management, operation, and maintenance of the Panama Canal.

—The Ambassador in the Republic of Panama has the responsibility to assess the effect of Panama Canal Commission plans and activities in light of U.S. objectives in the Republic of Panama and to make appropriate observations thereon, in Panama and in Washington. His concern will be with the effect of Panama Canal Commission activities on U.S. relations with the Republic of Panama, and not with management, operation, and maintenance of the Panama Canal. Of equal importance, he is responsible for assessing the impact of the Government of Panama’s policies and activities on U.S. objectives and for promoting the GOP’s understanding and acceptance of these objectives. The Ambassador shall have no authority to direct the Administrator to initiate or to withhold policies or activities regarding the management, operation, or maintenance of the Canal.

—To enable the Ambassador to discharge his responsibility, the Administrator will keep the Ambassador fully and currently informed with respect to the official activities and operations of the officers and employees of the Commission in the Republic of Panama. In particular, the Administrator will inform the Ambassador of the proposed initiation of major activities, operations, or changes in policy of the Commission in reasonable time to permit the Ambassador to comment on such matters in Panama, and, if required, in Washington, prior to their initiation. The Ambassador shall similarly inform the Administrator of all activities and policies of U.S. agencies in Panama which may affect the management and operation of the Canal and provide him the same opportunity for comment.

—The Administrator will coordinate through the Ambassador proposed official contacts between Panama Canal Commission and Panamanian Government officials other than those normally involved in the Commission’s activities. He will keep the Ambassador informed of the results of these as well as other significant contacts with Panamanian officials.

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The procedures outlined above apply to the planning and preparation for the implementation of the Panama Canal Treaty prior to its entry into force, and subsequently to its implementation.

  • Charles W. Duncan, Jr.4
    Deputy Secretary Department of Defense
  • Warren Christopher5
    Deputy Secretary Department of State
  • Clifford L. Alexander, Jr. 6
    Secretary of the Army
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files, FRC: 330–81–0202, Panama 821 (Oct-Dec) 1978. No classification marking.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XXXI, South and Central America; Mexico, Document 414.
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E–10, Documents on American Republics, 1969–1972, Document 522.
  4. Duncan signed on October 19.
  5. Christopher signed on October 11.
  6. Alexander signed on October 13.