259. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Panama1

42827. For Ambassador Moss. Subject: Torrijos’s Initiative Regarding Salvador.

1. (S—Entire text)

2. We believe that Torrijos’s suggestion concerning a meeting with Salvador and leftist group leaders is something worth exploring, if what he has in mind does not involve undermining the present junta [Page 613] or the armed forces. You are requested to see Torrijos as soon as possible and make following points:2

—We are interested in exploring with him his ideas of what might be accomplished by a meeting with the leaders of the Salvadoran leftist groups.

—In order to exchange views with him Bowdler and Pastor are prepared to go to Panama when he gives the signal.

—In order to have a clear understanding of our purpose we believe it would be advisable to work out with him a “master plan” based on both countries’ common objectives with a rather specific outline of tasks each might perform. The mechanics of the meeting with Salvadoran leaders including the groups to be represented, the persons who will attend, the venue, and the ground rules.

—We recognize that he is very well informed about the internal situation and has excellent contact with the Left and with the military. We have good contacts with the center groups and with the Right. Both of us could use our influence in bringing about a peaceful climate where Salvadorans could work out meaningful reforms in a democratic framework.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Box 42, Pastor Country, Panama, 3–12/80. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis. Sent Immediate for information to the White House.
  2. In telegram 1546 from Panama City, February 16, Moss reported that he met with Torrijos on February 16 and made all the points contained in telegram 42827. Torrijos was pleased with the response and open to a visit by Pastor and Bowdler. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Box 42, Pastor, Country, Panama, 3–12/80) They met with Torrijos February 23–24. See Document 260.