Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President on the Progress of Treaty Negotiations With Panama

September 24, 1965

I have today an announcement of especial importance regarding the progress of treaty negotiations with Panama.

In the past 18 months, representatives of the United States and the Republic of Panama have been conducting negotiations concerning the Panama Canal.

On December 18th, I told the American people that the United States sought fair play and justice, with a decent respect for the rights of all. The fact that we are large and that Panama is small would have no bearing on these discussions. We were determined then, as we are determined now, to do what is fair and what is right.

I asked our representatives to sit down and to seek answers. I pledged that we would reason together to find solutions that would be reasonable and right--right for our own people and fight for the good people of Panama.

Today, I am happy to announce that areas of agreement have been successfully reached. I am very proud of Ambassadors Robert Anderson and Irwin, who spoke for the United States of America. I am very grateful to Ambassadors Arias, de la Rosa, and Aleman, who spoke for Panama.

They have proven again the truth of our deepest conviction--that nations can resolve their differences honorably and reasonably, without violence and conflict.

At this very moment, President Robles of Panama is announcing to his own people the areas of agreement which our two countries have now reached. They are the following: "In order to meet their present and future needs the two countries are negotiating separately a new and a modern treaty to replace the 1903 treaty and its amendments-a base rights and status of forces agreement-and a treaty under which there might be constructed across Panama a new sea level canal.

"The two countries recognize that the primary interest of both countries lies in ensuring that arrangements are provided for effective operations and defense of the existing Panama Canal and any new canal which may be constructed in Panama in the future.

"With respect to the status of the negotiations on a new treaty to replace the 1903 treaty and its amendments, general areas of agreement have been reached. The details of these areas of agreement are the subject of current negotiations.

"The purpose is to ensure that Panama will share with the United States responsibility in the administration, management and the operations of the canal as may be provided in the treaty. Panama will also share with the United States in the direct and the indirect benefits from the existence of this canal on its territory.

"The areas of agreement reached are the following:

"1. The 1903 treaty will be abrogated.

"2. The new treaty will effectively recognize Panama's sovereignty over the area of the present Canal Zone.

"3. The new treaty will terminate after a specified number of years, or on or about the date of the opening of the sea level canal whichever occurs first.

"4. A primary objective of the new treaty will be to provide for an appropriate political, economic and social integration of the area used in the canal operation with the rest of the Republic of Panama. Both countries recognize that there is a need for an orderly transition to avoid abrupt and possibly harmful dislocations. We also recognize that certain changes should be made over a period of time. The new canal administration will be empowered to make such changes in accordance with the guidelines in the new treaty.

"5. Both countries recognize the important responsibility they have to be fair and helpful to the employees of all nationalities who are serving so efficiently and well in the operation of this very important canal. Appropriate arrangements will be made to ensure that the rights and the interests of these employees are safeguarded.

"The new treaties will provide for the defense of the existing canal and any sea level canal which may be constructed in Panama. United States forces and military facilities will be maintained under a base rights and status of forces agreement.

"With respect to the sea level canal, the United States will make studies and site surveys of possible routes in Panama. Negotiations are continuing with respect to the methods and the conditions of financing, constructing and operating a sea level canal, in the light of the importance of such a canal to the Republic of Panama, to the United States of America, to world commerce and to the progress of all mankind.

"The United States and Panama will seek the necessary solutions to the economic problems which would be caused by the construction of a sea level canal.

"The present canal and any new canal which may be constructed in the future shall be open at all times to the vessels of all nations on a nondiscriminatory basis. The tolls would be reasonable in the light of the contribution of the Republic of Panama and the United States of America and of the interest of world commerce."

So, today, I take great pleasure in congratulating the negotiators for the very fine progress that they have made. I want to express my confidence in their ability to negotiate the details of these treaties, within the guidelines that have been agreed upon. All that we do is in the mutual interest and the welfare of the United States, Panama, and, we believe, the world at large.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President read the statement at 1:35 p.m. in the White House Theater. In the statement he referred to Robert Anderson, former Secretary of the Treasury, and John N. Irwin, United States delegates at the negotiations; Ricardo Arias Espinosa, Panamanian Ambassador to the United States, Diogenes de la Rosa, and Roberto Aleman, Panamanian delegates; and Marco A. Robles, President of Panama.

APP Note: This document has been classified as Presidential "Remarks" because the President read the statement.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President on the Progress of Treaty Negotiations With Panama Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives