Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger yesterday strongly supported President Carter's efforts to achieve a strategic arms limitation agreement with the Soviet Union. He urged the public not to be "unsettled by temporary disappointments," such as the recent impasse in arms negotiations in Moscow.

Speaking in Georgetown University, where he is a visiting professor this spring, Kissinger declared that the issue of nuclear weapons conflicts between the United States and Russia can be on "the level of life and death."

"No single agreement can ever totally remove the danger," Kissinger said. "No setback can be permitted to stand in the way of trying again."

Kissinger added that "negotiations must proceed in a calm, nonconfrontational way without self-imposed deadlines or rhetorical battles that publicly stake the prestige of both sides."

While he called for continued efforts to achieve disarmament, Kissinger urged that the United States must "match" Soviet military power in order to maintain peace and preserve free societies. He also accused the Soviets of irresponsible action in permitting the invasion of Zaire by troops based in Angola, a country whose government, Kissinger said, "was installed by Soviet arms and the military personnel of a Soviet client state (Cuba)."

Kissinger said that the current invasion of the copper-belt region of southern Zaire "could not have taken place - and it could not continue - without the material support or acquiescence of the Soviet Union.

"Such irresponsible acts set a dangerous precedent," Kissinger continued. "If all African problems are to be settled hereafter by radical means with weapons brought in from the outside, a catastrophic race war in southern Africa will become more and more likely with profound implications for us both at home and around the world.

"If attacks across sovereign borders are supinely accepted by the international community, sooner or later events will get out of control."

An audience of about 850, including foreign ambassadors and veteran U.S. diplomats, as well as students, filled Georgetown's Gaston Hall to hear Kissinger's speechs, which was his first public address since leaving office in January. They listened to him intently for more than an hour and then applauded for several minutes after he had finished.

The address was sponsored not only by Georgetown but also by the National Defense University and the Naval War College, as the Frank C. Nash Memorial Lecture. Nash was a former Assistant Secretary of Defense for international security affairs, who died in 1957. Kissinger said that Nash understood well that "military strength is indispensable . . . and the prerequisite for a world that fulfills our ideals of freedom and human dignity."

At one point, Kissinger said: "Though we cannot surpass the Soviet Union in all categories of military power, the free nations cannot fall behind in every significant category without suffering profound political consequences. Diplomacy, no matter how imaginative, cannot operate from impotence. Matching Soviet power in realistic ways that remove the incentive for oppression is the precondition of all effective policy."

Although Kissinger said that "human rights is clearly a legitimate subject of international discourse," he warned that American effots to achieve them "must be related to the full mosaic of our policy goals."

In all his direct references to Carter, Kissinger praised the President and said that American foreign policy should have bipartisan support. However, without naming the President, he declared that an emphasis on moralism in foreign policy, which Carter often expresses, has led to the "most serious errors of American foreign policy in this century."