The United States on Friday rejected Panama’s allegation that it had violated a treaty by shipping arms into that country and accused the Panamanian military of illegally seizing American goods.
The Panama Defense Forces said Thursday that the United States had breached the Panama Canal treaty by shipping arms, including a cannon, into the country through the port of Las Minas, near the Caribbean entrance to the Panama Canal. Panamanian officials said the treaty barred use of that port for U.S. military shipments.
But State Department spokeswoman Phyllis Oakley denied Panama’s charges at a news briefing Friday, saying: “Nothing in the canal treaty or related agreements prevents the U.S. from routing shipments of military supplies or equipment through this port.”
She said Panama had unlawfully seized part of a shipment of U.S. military supplies, including an M-1 tank cannon.
A senior Panamanian official had charged that the arms were linked to “subversive plans” against the military-dominated regime of Gen. Manuel A. Noriega.