The battle is now on in the United States to gain Senate approval for the new Panama Canal treaty signed in Washington to Wednesday night (7 September) by President Carter and Panama's head of government General Omar Torrijos.
The battle is now on in the United States to gain Senate approval for the new Panama Canal treaty signed in Washington to Wednesday night (7 September) by President Carter and Panama's head of government General Omar Torrijos. There's been widespread opposition in America to the treaty, which gives up U.S. control of the canal by the end of the century, and it has to be ratified by a two-thirds vote in the Senate. Another treaty was signed on Wednesday guaranteeing the permanent neutrality of the canal, and giving the United States the right to defend it against threats.
SYNOPSIS: The ceremony was held at the headquarters of the Organisation of American States in Washington and the audience included 18 Latin American leaders.
General Torrijos said the treaties augured well for future relations between Panama and the United States. His sentiments matched those of Mr. Carter given at a White House dinner for the Latin American leaders later in the evening. Mr. Carter described the treaties, which are the product of 13 years of lengthy negotiations, as a great step forward towards peace and mutual respect.
General Torrijos will put the main treaty to a referendum in Panama in late October. There is some opposition to it, he said later, because the Americans would be staying in Panama for another 23 years. The U.S. military bases which remain there until the end of the century meant the canal would be a possible strategic target.
President Carter said the treaties marked the commitment of the United States to the belief that fairness, not force, should be at the heart of its dealings with other nations. He added that the new treaties served the best interests of every country that used the canal because its neutrality would be guaranteed.