Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady yesterday said he had told Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan and other Fed governors that they should not "wait around" for a budget deficit agreement, but proceed now to lower interest rates, "and the sooner the better."

In a press conference with reporters prior to Monday's economic summit in Houston at which the leaders of seven industrial nations will meet, Brady escalated the Bush administration's pressure on the Fed to reduce interest rates with an appeal to act in the national interest.

Acknowledging the "primacy" of the Fed in the area of interest rate policy, Brady said that "they're an enormously sensible group of individuals and they'll act when they see fit, but I think I see this as a U.S. national problem to which all roads should lead to one conclusion."

That conclusion, Brady suggested, is that the U.S. economy in its present stage requires lower interest rates because economic growth has fallen below the administration's targets. "It seems to me that it's not a wise idea to emphasize an undying, forever, attack on inflation if it jeopardizes growth in this country," Brady said.

Brady's unusual public comments on Fed policy underscore administration concerns over weak economic growth, which some officials fear could turn into a recession if interest rates do not fall. However, Greenspan and other Fed officials have been aiming all year at growth below the administration's forecast in order to hold down inflation.

Top Fed policy makers met Monday and Tuesday to set an interest rate policy for coming weeks as well as targets for growth of the money supply for the rest of this year and tentative targets for 1991.

Analysts said there was no indication in financial markets yesterday that the central bank had decided to lower rates, though a number believe it might do so if upcoming reports on the economy, such as the Labor Department report due today on June employment, show further signs of economic weakness.

Meanwhile, President Bush has set in motion a budget "summit" with congressional leaders, in which he promised to put all options for reducing the deficit, including higher taxes, on the table. Administration officials have indicated their hopes that the prospect of an agreement would lead to a softening of the Fed's monetary policy.

Brady yesterday made that implied hope explicit. He recalled that Greenspan "has indicated, maybe not precisely, but indicated he believes that if we get a budget agreement {to reduce the deficit}, he believes interest rates will come down. I do, too. ... I said to him and members of the Fed that I don't think we should wait around -- that those two things go hand in hand. And that my optimism on the chances of a budget agreement are based on the fact that it will clearly lead to lower interest rates and the sooner the better."

A Fed spokesman had no comment.