The Panama Canal treaty talks have recessed unexpectedly to allow Panamanian negotiators to fly home for consultations on new developments, the State Department reported yesterday.
The decision to break off the meeting came after a two-hour session Wednesday when chief Panamanian negotiator Romulo Escobar Betancourt decided to fly home.
State Department spokesman Frederick Z. Brown said this session of the talks, which began Monday, will resume "in the next few days."
He declined to describe the development that Escobar suddenly returned to discuss with the Panamanian strongmen, Gen. Omar Torrijos.
However, Brown said the Wednesday talks "were cordial and comprehensive" and the United States "is encouraged by the progress."
In describing Escobar's return, Brown added that "there was an exchange of ideas which the Panamanian negotiators wanted to discuss personally" with Torrijos.
The main issues remaining in signing a new treaty deal with guaranteeing the neutrality and access to the waterway, the disposition of territory now held by the United States and the compensation to be paid Panama.
Talks for a treaty to replace the original accord signed in 1903 have been held intermittently for nearly 10 years!
Panama has demanded eventual juridsiction over the canal zone and the canal as well.The United States has insisted on a new treaty that will assure that the canal will remain open to all nations on a non-discriminatory basis once Panama gains control.
Panama has resisted any proposals that would in any way limit its jurisdiction over the canal.