The shah of Iran reportedly told President Carter yesterday he would not push for higher oil prices at a meeting next month of oil exporting countries.
His assurance came during a 90-minute discussion in the White House that followed a welcoming ceremony punctuated by sounds of protests and fumes from tear gas fired by police who fought angry demonstrators on the nearby Ellipse.
Today the shah is expected to present a long list of requiests for arms sales to his country. The requests, mostly for new planes to modernize his air force, come at a time of rising opposition in the Senate to further weapons transfers to Iran.
At yesterday's ceremony the acrid smoke caused Carter to blink and wipe his eyes and the shah to dab his face with a white handkerchief.
The two leaders stood on a platform on the South lawn of the White House a few hundred yards north of the bloody demonstration, which came at the start of a 21-gun salute for the shah.
Both Carter and the shah looked grim but remained calm during the battle between police and hundreds of pro-shah and anti-shah demonstrators. The protestors, shouting, "Down with the fascist shah" and "down with U.S. imperialism," were denouncing what they called Iran's repressive regime.
White House sources said they could not remember when a welcoming ceremony for a head of state was marred by such a demonstration.
Later, after Carter accepted a tapestry portrait of George Washington from the shah during a ceremony in the grand hallway of the White House, the president told reporters he had apologized to the shah "for the temporary air pollution in Washington."
In the afternoon, White House press secretary Jody Powell read a statement denouncing the violence.
"Our view is that the Constitution of this country gives every American and even those who are visitors the right to assembly and to express their feelings in even the most vocal and visible way," he said.
Our Constitution does not guarantee a right to violence. We deplore outbursts of violence and we particularly regret the injury to police officers and to peaceful demonstrators."
After Carter and Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had concluded their first round of talks, Powell said the President "was pleased with his (the shah's) attitude" on holding down an oil price increase that oil exporting countries will consider next month.
The shah, who was meeting his eighth U.S. President and making his 12th visit to this country, was understood to have told Carter he was going to remain neutral at the Dec. 20 meeting of the 13-member Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries in Caracas, Venezuela.
In the past, Iran, which produces about 6.5 million barrels of oil a day and provides 7 to 8 per cent of U.S. oil imports, has been considered a "hawk" in advocating large increases in oil prices.
While the shah was not openly seeking a direct quid pro quo - restraint on oil prices in exchange for more U.S. weapons - his reassurances on oil were aimed at creating a positive atmosphere, said one U.S. source.
"He would no doubt be pleased if we responded favorably to his arms requests," the source added. "But he announced his oil position earlier this month and there were no conditions on it."
Carter was understood to have stressed to the shah his strong feeling that another round of price increases could slow or stop the worldwide recovery from recession.
The two leaders were said to have discussed only multilateral issues - oil, the Middle East, and problems in the Horn of Africa and in southern Africa. Bilateral issues, such as U.S. arms sales to Iran, will be discussed today when they meet again at the White House.
Last month, Senate Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) called for a moratorium on weapons transfers to Iran, noting that since 1972 this country has sold or agreed to sell $18.2 billion worth of arms to Iran.
However, the shah is expected to press for 140 F-16 fighter jets costing about $2 billion. He has already ordered 160 F-16s for delivery in 1981 at a cost of about $3.8 billion.
He has also sought permission to buy 250 F-18 attack planes worth about $2.5 billion. The shah wants the F-16s and F-18s to replace his older F-4 Phantom bombers and F-5 attack planes.
In view of yesterday's demonstrations, Powell was asked if Carter had raised the issue of human rights with the shah.
"It did not come up in this discussion," Powell replied. Asked if Carter was avoiding the issue because the shah was "sensitive" about it, Powell replied, "No." He said he did not know if the subject would be raised today.
Other sources said one subject that will definitely come up today is that of a nuclear cooperative agreement. The two nations are close to signing such an agreement under which the United States would agree to provide nuclear technology, including reactors, to Iran.
The shah has said he would not seek to have the capability of reprocessing nuclear fuel in Iran. But he reportedly wants assurances that Iran would have access to reprocessing in another country.