U.S. Panama Canal negotiator Sol M. Linowitz denied yesterday a report that he had told a congressional committee that the United States intended to stay in the Canal Zone "in perpetuity."
Rep. John M. Murphy (D-N.Y.) chairman of the House Merchant Marine Committee, which heard Linowitz's testimony Wednesday, agreed that the report - which caused a furor in Latin America - was "inaccurate."
In Panama, the foreign relations committee of the National Assembly, held a special meeting at which legislators expressed anger at the report.
Elias Castillo, chairman of the committee, said he believed that either Linowitz was misquoted or was he "twisting the contents" of the most recent canal negotiations. Castillo said the negotiators, who met informally here last weekend, had discussed "ways or assuring the United States and the rest of the world nondiscriminatory transit through the canal once it is returned to Panamanian control."
The United States and Panama agreed in 1974 that at the end of the new canal treaty, the waterway will be turned over to Panama. Since then negotiations have focused on the duration of the treay.
State Department spokesman Frederick Z. Brown said Linowitz had used the words "in perpetuity" in his testimony, but added that the words were not used "in the context of the" press reports.
"The whole question of duration and post-treaty rights are still a matter of negotiation. No agreement has been reached," Brown added.
Murphy, Linowitz and Brown all stressed that they were not at liberty to give any details of Linowitz's testimony because the hearing was closed.