265. Memorandum From the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Newsom) for the File1


  • Movement of the Shah

During the morning I had successive phone calls relating to the possible departure of the Shah of Iran from Panama.

Mel Blake, the DCM in Panama, called to relay a message from Arnie Raphel stating that any blocks on the movement of the Egyptian plane to Panama should be removed.2 At my request Mel went back to Arnie to clarify his message and it was agreed that I would inform Ambassador Ghorbal that the U.S. had no objection to the plane coming and that the timing and need for the plane obviously depended on the Shah.

In a conversation with Ambassador Ghorbal he said the Egyptians were waiting for word from Torrijos. The Egyptian Ambassador had [Page 624] approached Torrijos’ staff last night but Torrijos has not yet given a response. Ghorbal’s instructions to Cairo were that the plane should not depart until it had formal clearance from Panama.

At 11:15 a.m. Hamilton Jordan called me to say that he had just come from a conversation with Torrijos. It was clear that if the Shah were to leave Panama he should leave before Monday3 when the request for extradiction would be filed by the Iranian lawyers. Jordan then asked me to ask Ambassador Ghorbal to request Cairo to let the plane proceed toward Panama. Torrijos said that the final approval for the landing in Panama would be given within two to three hours.

I called Ghorbal at 11:40 and he said he would ask the plane to proceed toward Panama.4

David D. Newsom
  1. Source: Department of State, Executive Secretariat, Information Management Section, Files of David P. Newsom, Under Secretary for Political Affairs, 1978–1981, Lot 81D154, The Shah, Panama—Jan–Mar 1980, Egypt Jan–July 1980. Confidential. Drafted by Newsom. A copy was sent to Saunders.
  2. In telegram 2489 from Panama City, March 19, Moss reported on a meeting with Armao and Morse, during which Moss was informed of Sadat’s repeated offers to take in the Shah, permit the Shah’s surgery to be performed in Egypt, and give him asylum thereafter. Sadat also reportedly offered to send his private aircraft to pick up the Shah and his family. (Ibid.)
  3. March 24.
  4. The Shah departed Panama for Egypt on March 23.