The United States will close its Panama military bases before the year 2000 as required by the Panama Canal treaties, Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney told the Panamanian president Tuesday.

Cheney met briefly with President Guillermo Endara on the second stop of the defense secretary's five-nation, 10-day swing through Latin America."During their brief meeting, the secretary reiterated that the United States government intends to comply fully with the Panama Canal treaties," said a press release from the U.S. Southern Command, the Panama-based headquarters for all U.S. military operations in Central and South America.

The treaties, signed in 1977 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former Panamanian leader Gen. Omar Torrijos, call for a complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops in Panama before the year 2000. Currently about 10,000 U.S. troops are based along the Panama Canal.

Polls show a majority of Panamanians favor a continued U.S. military presence after the year 2000.

A top aide to the Panamanian president said that Cheney had denied U. S. press reports that the bases would be moved to Brazil.