In the United States a new Panama Canal treaty has signed at a ceremony attended by President Jimmy Carter and 20 Latin American heads of state.
In the United States a new Panama Canal treaty has signed at a ceremony attended by President Jimmy Carter and 20 Latin American heads of state. The new treaty deals with the transfer of the canal, which was built by the Americans 70 years ago, to Panama by the end of the century. But the treaty still faces an uphill battle in the United States Senate, which has to give approval by a two-thirds majority.
SYNOPSIS: Four days of talks began at the White House on Tuesday (6 September) between President Carter and the Latin American leaders including Panamanian President Omar Torrijos. Mr. Carter invited them to show American opponents how much support the treaty has in South America.
American and Panamanian negotiators had spent years hammering out the agreement. It guarantees the permanent neutrality of the canal and universal access to it and will be available for signing by any country in the world. President Carter was asking the leaders to sign a 'Washington Declaration' to demonstrate their backing for the treaty.
Mr. Carter also met the Latin American heads of state individually for talks, among them Colombian President Alfonso Lopez. White House officials said one of the subjects discussed with the other leaders was America's renewed efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. The United States also is the world's largest importer of coffee, Colombia's most important product -- and one which has risen steeply in price.
After their meeting in the White House President Carter told reporters about the talks.
President Carter's most sensitive discussion was with President Augusto Pinochet of Chile, whose military government has been bitterly attacked by American critics for its alleged abuse of human rights. Security around the White House was tight for the talks, which Mr. Carter said involved the human rights issue. Liberal groups have accused the Pinochet regime of widespread repression, torture and imprisonment of political prisoners.