Vice President Mondale, arriving here tonight for the Panama Canal transfer ceremonies, also intends to discuss with Latin American leaders the U.S. position in the confrontation over Soviet troops in Cuba.
Administration officials aboard Mondale's plane said he plans to talk with many of the approximately 15 Latin presidents and foreign ministers expected at the ceremonies to explain the problem from Washington's perspective.
Mondale, the official said, will outline the situation in a general way and ask the leaders to await the specific details and proposals that President Carter will reveal about the Soviet troops in his televised address Monday night.
Carter's speech addressing a potentially serious new problem for the United States in the hemisphere ironically comes as Mondale is representing him here to mark what was supposed to be a historic turning point in U.S.-Latin American relations -- the first phase in the turnover of the canal to Panamanian sovereignty.
A cloud of uncertainty has been cast over the canal ceremonies, however, by growing concern in Latin America about the implications for the region of a possible U.S.-Soviet confrontation.
Some of the Latin leaders in Panama, such as Mexico's Jose Lopez Portillo and members of Nicaragua's ruling junta, had talks with Carter in Washington this past week. But Mondale plans to have talks with leaders of the other Western Hemisphere nations at the ceremonies.
The officials with Mondale stressed that, despite the Cuba situation, the vice president's main purpose here is to represent the United States at the ceremonies that began officially at midnight tonight, when the first phase of the Panama Canal treaties went into effect.