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Letter to President Chiari of Panama Concerning the Canal.

November 15, 1961

[Released November 15, 1961. Dated November 2, 1961]

Dear Mr. President:

I have read with great interest your letter of September 8, 1961 which your brother delivered to me on September 15th. I am also very pleased to have had a personal conversation with your brother at that time.

I agree with you that an unusual community of interests exists between the Republic of Panama and the United States. Our respective Governments and peoples have been closely associated since the very beginning of your nation. The Panama Canal has been an important element in the development and growth of the relationship between our two countries, and has also contributed to the bonds of unity which link all the American Republics.

The Government of the United States hopes to maintain and strengthen the relations between our two nations on the basis of mutual respect and sincere friendship. I feel sure that the Government of Panama shares this objective.

Once again, on behalf of the Government of the United States, I reaffirm our willingness to cooperate wholeheartedly with the Government of Panama to insure the full enjoyment of the various benefits which the Canal should afford to the two nations that made possible its construction. We also wish to make these benefits available to all nations interested in international trade.

As I pointed out to your brother on September 15, I realize that the historic friendship and cooperation between our two countries has sometimes been marred by differences concerning the interpretation of the rights granted to the United States by the Republic of Panama. In past years, these problems have been resolved in various ways--sometimes through formal treaty negotiations and sometimes through friendly discussions and the subsequent implementation of specific measures agreed upon by representatives of the two Governments.

My Government recognizes that differences will inevitably arise between even the friendliest nations, and believes that these differences must be discussed thoroughly and frankly, in order to clarify the interests and attitudes of both parties.. It seems clear, therefore, that when two friendly nations are bound by treaty provisions which are not fully satisfactory to one of the parties, arrangements should be made to permit qualified representatives of both nations to discuss these points of dissatisfaction with a view to their resolution.

I have instructed the various responsible Departments and agencies of the United States Government to make a complete reexamination of our current and future needs with respect to Isthmian Canal facilities. I expect this study to be completed within a very few months, at which time my Government will communicate promptly with the Government of Panama.

I am confident that representatives of our two Governments, after a frank exchange of views and a careful assessment of our mutual needs and interests, can reach fruitful conclusions which will promote the mutual welfare of both countries.

With cordial good wishes.



John F. Kennedy, Letter to President Chiari of Panama Concerning the Canal. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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