8. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to Multiple Recipients1


  • Policy Review Committee Meeting, January 27, 1977

Agreement was reached on the following points:

1. The U.S. Government should re-affirm the Kissinger-Tack Joint Statement of Principles,2 and Secretary Vance should convey this to Foreign Minister Boyd on January 31.

2. To obtain critical domestic support, the following steps need to be taken:

a. A general reference to issue in the President’s first fireside chat and/or a more specific statement re-affirming that our national interest requires a new treaty in the State of the Union Message on February 12;3

b. An immediate, well-organized and coordinated effort, involving the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense and State Departments, to enlist the support of the Senate and the House of Representatives (responsible for implementing legislation) for a new treaty on the Panama Canal;4 and

c. It was suggested that a National Citizens Committee on the Panama Canal be set up to stimulate a national educational campaign, directed at defense-oriented and other groups.5

3. Negotiations with Panama should begin again in the second week of February, right after the State of the Union Message.6

4. U.S. Negotiators should explore informally Panama’s willingness to accept fundamental U.S. requirements if the U.S. accepts a treaty termination date of October 31, 1999. One formula for assuring the neutrality of the Canal after the treaty’s termination acceptable to the JCS, as well as other participants, was that both governments would commit themselves to protect and defend the Canal and assure its [Page 52] neutrality. Panama would agree not to challenge the U.S. interpretation that we could exercise this responsibility unilaterally.7

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Council Institutional Files, Box 59, PRC 770001—1/27/77—Panama. Secret. Sent to Vance, Harold Brown, Young, George Brown, Bunker, and Linowitz.
  2. See footnote 10, Document 3.
  3. Carter wrote: “ok” in the right margin. See footnote 31, Document 3.
  4. Carter wrote: “Must be directed from me” in the right margin.
  5. Carterwrote: “doubt advisability” in the right margin.
  6. Carterwrote: “ok” in the right margin. Negotiations resumed on February 15.
  7. Carterwrote: “My only promise is ‘not to relinquish practical control’—sovereignty, etc open to negotiation—Need to review this Sat a.m.” and initialed at the end of the memorandum.