33. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter1
[Omitted here is information unrelated to Panama.]
4. Panama Canal Negotiations—I met this afternoon with Sol Linowitz who brought me up-to-date on the Panama Canal negotiations. He said that he has made substantial progress over the last three weeks. He believes that it will be possible to reach agreement on a treaty within two months if Torrijos really wants one. Linowitz stated that neither he nor the Presidents of Venezuela and Colombia, with whom he spoke recently,2 know whether Torrijos wants a treaty. Torrijos is fearful of being criticized for being too soft. Linowitz pointed out, on the other hand, that the two Latin American Presidents and many people in Panama believe that Torrijos needs a treaty if he is to survive politically.
Sol feels that he has broken the back of the most difficult issue, that of preservation of neutrality in the post-treaty period with the accompanying right of the U.S. to intervene to preserve such neutrality. Sol has also been spending a good deal of time on the Hill. His opinion is that it is going to be a tough fight. However, he has recently won over such opponents as Hayakawa and Hatch.