Some of the nation's most distinguished senior statesmen and industrial leaders have banded together to push for ratification of the Panama Canal treaties it was learned last night.
The blue-ribbon committee, quietly organized in recent weeks by former New York Gov. W. Averell Harriman and others, is expected to go public today and meet with President Carter on Monday according to reliable sources.
The group, several sources said, is a cross-section of current and former business, labor and government leaders. It is and outgrowth of a breakfast meeting at the White House last month put together by presidential assistant Hamilton Jordon and trade negotiator Robert Strauss.
Among the members sources said, are former ambassador Gen Maxwell Taylor George Ball, investment banker and former undersecretary of state: AFL-CIO president George Meany; Mrs. Lyndon Johnson: Henry Cabot Lodge, the former senator and ambassador: former Senate Minoreity Leader Hugh Scott former senator and ambassador John Sherman Coopers: Irving Shapiro, chairman of the board of Dupont: Robert Anderson, chairman of Atlantic Richfield Co. : former Sen. Stuart Symination: New York lawyer John J. McCloy, and Jack Marsh, a presidential assistant in the Ford administration.
Harriman, contacted last night said "I can't deny" that a committee is being formed. He said he expects a White House announcement today.
"There are an awful lot of people who think we ought to ratify the treaty." Harriman said, "particularly after the agreement of understanding reached on Frinday by President Carter and Gen. Torrijus," the military ruler of Panama.
That agreement reafluenced U.S. rights to use military force to keep the canal open and to retain wartime preferree in using it.
"For 20 years, I've known we had to do something about the canal." Harriman said "This treaty guarrantees our security and will vastly improve our relations with all of Latin American."