Following a three-hour talk here today with President Carlos Andres Perez, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance said he failed to convince the Venezuela leader to support an oil price freeze this year.
After discussions on a number of issues, including human rights of nuclear non-profileration in Latin America, Vance said the only question on which the two did not agree was that of oil prices.
"I expressed our very strong view that there should be a freeze on oil prices and that the OPEC meeting here next December would reach that conclusion," Vance said.
"President Perez, on the other hand, expressed his views on that matter . . . They do not agree with ours."
During a trip to Brazil last week, Perez said he expected an increase of from 5 to 8 per cent during next month's meeting here of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
The United States believes that Perez's comments, made in a Brazilian newspaper interview, were unfortunate. While there was no intention of asking him to announce support for a price freeze immediately, U.S. officials hoped that he would agree in private to back away from any increseproposal made during the OPEC gathering.
Last week, the shah of Iran assured President Carter that his country would not seek an increase. Other OPEC members, including Iraq and Algeria, have indicated that they plan to push for an increase of 15 per cent or more.
While Perez prefers to think of his country as an OPEC "moderator" that generally stays out of price dispute except to arbitrate them, the Venezuelan leader was deeply disappointed at the failure of the developed nations, during last spring's North-South conference in Paris, to establish a new development aid fund for developing countries.
Referring to that failure, Perez said today in comments following Vance's departure that he "would be the leader of an effort to freeze petroleum prices" if the developed world made an effort to "freeze the prices of steel, machinery and tractors on an international scale."
OPEC nations have frequently complained that, while they are asked to hold down their prices to combat world inflation and balance of payments problems, the world's manufacturing nations refuse to do the same with prices of their industrial exports.
Asked if he thought that an OPEC increase could help President Carter's endangered energy legislation by convincing Americans that they were in for high gasoline and fuel hikes, Vance said "absolutely not."
"We beleive that any increase could have a seriously adverse effect on inflation and unemployment and that there should be a freeze as to obviate this danger," Vance said.
For the world's developing nations, he said, an increase would present "serious balance of payments problems."
The brief talks with Perez were the last leg of a three-day Latin American tour that first took Vance and high-ranking State Department officials in Latin American, nuclear and human rights affairs to Argentina and Brazil.
Results on the trip were mixed and, on balance, more negative than positive.
While Argentina agreed to ratify a treaty declaring Latin America a nuclear free zone, Vance and his nuclear negotiators, like a number of U.S. officials before them, were unable to convince Brazil to hold off its plans to contruct a nuclear reprocessing plant that the United States believes poses danger of nuclear arms proliferation in Latin America.
Despite strenuous U.S. efforts and strong protests, little progress was made in Argentina in the area of human rights. Although one senior U.S. official in the Vance party applauded Argentina's announcement that it would support and strengthen the Organization of American States Human Rights Commission, he said the actual human rights situation in Argentina had shown little improvement, and in fact had regressed in several areas.
Similarly, Brazil answered human rights probes by repeating its contention that such subjects were not fit topics to be discussed with other countries, and were a purely internal matter.
Much of Vance's time on the trip, especially on the long flights between countries, was taken up by a close following of developments in the Middle East.
Asked for his assessment of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's visit to Israel, Vance called it a very bold and imaginative step. I think it had a major effect in breaking down the wall of suspicion and mistrust that has been the principle obstacle to negotiations between the parties.
Vance said he hoped that the Sadat trip would "remove the procedual obstacles" in the way of a Middle East settlement so the situation can move to the bargaining table. "Until we get to thebargaining table," he said, "nothing can be done."