As a result of a printing error in some editions of yesterday's paper, two lines were dropped from a paragraph of the story on prospects for an oil price freeze, and inserted in another paragraph. The paragraphs in question should have read: The United States fears that if the OPEC meeting is postponed until sometime in 1978, pressure within the cartel will grow for at least a 5 or 6 per cent increase in the world price of oil, which is now set at $12.70 a barrell. . . The Arab oil producers are divided on the price question roughly along the same lines as on Sadat's peace bid. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar - who attitude on Sadat's moves - are backing a price freeze. Iraq Algeria and Libya - the harshest critics of Sadat - are seeking a boost.
The Carter adminstration's campaign to persuade oil-producing nations to freeze prices for 1978 at their present level was plunged into contusion yesterday.
Diplomatic sources in Caracas reported that Venezuela, which was scheduled to host next week's annual meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, had proposed to the other 12 OPEC members that the talks be postponed.
Venezuelan officials insisted publicly yesterday that "the OPEC meeting will take place as scheduled" on Dec. 20, but U.S. sources said they believed the possibility of a postponement was in fact under consideration.
The Carter administration is anxious that the meeting be held next week because four of the makor oil producers - Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar - have all endorsed a price freeze.
The United States fears that if the OPEC meeting is postponed until sometime in 1978, pressure within the cartel will grow for at least a 5 or 6 per cent increase in the world price of oil, which is now set at $12.70 a barrel.
Concern in Washington over whether or not next week's OPEC meeting will actually take place overshadowed the enccuragement that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance received on the oil price question yesterday during talks with King Khalid of Saudi Arabia.
Vance, who met with Saudi leaders in Riyadh at the end of a six-nation tour of the Middle East, was told that the world's largest petroleum producer work to block any price increase at the scheduled OPEC meeting.
U.S. spokesman Hodding Carter III described Vance as "very hopeful" following his talks with the Saudis."He is encouraged about the prospects for holding the line," Carter said.
Saudi Arabia's oil minister, Sheikh Zaki Yamani, later presented his country's proposal for a 1978 price freeze when members of the Arab Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC) met in Bahrain.
While the Arab producers conference was not primarily concerned with the price issue, Arab members of OPEC are sharply divided over whether or not to press for a 1978 increase.
Iraq. Algeria and Libya have all declared that a price hike is justified, with Libya demanding a boost of 23 per cent.
The intra-Arab differences on this question are further exacerbated by the current rift in the Arab world over Egyptian President Anwar Sadat's peace initiative.
The Arab oil producers are divided on the price question roughly along the same lines as on Sadat's peace bid. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar - who have all taken a wait-and-see attitude on Sadat's moves - are backing a price freeze. Iraq. Algeria and Libya - the harshest critics of Sadat - are all seeking a boost.
Two leading Caracas newspapers reported yesterday that Venezuelan President Carlos Andres Perez cited the current Arab political split in suggestion to OPEC leaders that a postponement of the Caracas meeting might be advisable.
The Venezuelan government later denied that "Peres is asking for a postponement or a cancellation." It subsequently confirmed, however, that Venezuelan Energy Minister Valentin Hernandez had left Caracas on what officials suggested was an effort to guage the seriousness of the price dispute.
Diplomatic sources in Caracas said Hernandez was on his way to Bahrain, and would meet with Arab oil ministers there. The Venezuelan government, however, insisted that Hernandez was in fact flying only to London, and officials privately suggested that other oil ministers would join him in the next few days in the British capital.
Carter administration sources yesterday appeared to credit reports that a postponement of the OPEC meeting was under consideration, and indicated they felt the Caracas conference would be delayed if no agreement on the price issue appeared likely.
"What this would create, unfortunately, is additional uncertainty," a U.S. official said.
"Optimally, we favor a meeting now that would lead to an agreement now that would lead to an agreement on a price freeze," he added. "Our interest on the oil price issue is not served by contimuing uncertainty."
Meanwhile, Iraqi sources in Bahrain siad yeaterday that Baghdad only planned to send a low-level delegation to the Caracas conference even if it was held, to protest what it termed an effort by major producers to work out a prior agreement to keep prices at present levels.