250. Memorandum From Acting Secretary of State Christopher to President Carter 1

1. The Shah. Ambassador Sole today gave us an unequivocably negative answer to the possibility of the Shah’s going to South Africa. Bill Schwartz has given us an equally negative assessment on the Shah’s returning to the Bahamas.

I believe we should now move ahead promptly on Panama while that option is open. Unfortunately, only a call from you to Torrijos is likely to be successful, and I recommend it. I am attaching talking points for such a call, and will arrange for a translator if you agree.2

[Omitted here is information unrelated to Panama.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, Papers of Walter F. Mondale, Box 65, Foreign Countries—Panama Canal (1979). Secret. Vance was in London discussing international responses to the Iranian hostage crisis with Thatcher and Carrington. He also met with d’Estaing, Francois-Poncet, and Okita in Paris.
  2. Attached but not printed. In a December 11 note Clift informed Mondale that Carter preferred not to call Torrijos. (Carter Library, Papers of Walter F. Mondale, Box 65, Foreign Countries—Panama Canal (1979)) In a December 11 note to Torrijos, Carter wrote: “I have asked Hamilton Jordan to convey to you a very important message from me. For humanitarian reasons and for the sake of world peace, I hope that it will receive your favorable consideration.” (Carter Library, Plains File, President’s Personal Foreign Affairs Files, Box 3, Panama 9/77–9/80) In a December 17 memorandum to Brzezinski, Pastor expressed his belief that dealing with Torrijos and not Royo on the Shah situation undermined the U.S. objective of getting Panama on the “right track” toward a more civilian and democratic government. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Box 38, Brzezinski Office File Country Chron, Panama, 8–12/79)