Panamanian President Aristides Royo, arriving for talks with President Carter, said last night that his country is concerned about congressional actions "contradicting" the Panama Canal treaties ratified last year.
Royo declared that the treaties, after a long and troubled passage, are now in place and Panama "will not allow them to become embroiled in conflict or controversy."
Royo, 39, who took office from Gen. Omar Torrijos last October, was referring to attempts by congressional opponents of the treaties in effect to reopen them by impeding passage of enabling legislation in the House.
Congress must pass bills to carry out such provisions of the treaties as creation of a joint U.S.-Panamanian agency to operate the canal until the end of the century.
Unexpectedly heavy anti-Panama sentiment resulted in amendments by a House committee to retain a greater degree of U.S. control.Even that bill faces a close vote after its expected debate by the House next week.
In denouncing "several recent actions contradicting the spirit of the treaties," Royo also reffered to votes to cut $11.5 million in economic aid and $2.5 million in military aid for Panama.
Speaking at a ceremony in the headquarters of the Organization of American States, Royo noted that the treaties are to take effect Oct. 1 in any case, and he said Panama will meet its obligations. "I trust that the other signatory will so the same," he added.
One reason for Royo's trip is to demonstrate his independence of Torrijos, who remains as commander of Panama's armed forces. There has been speculation that Torrijos would continue a behind-the-scenes role as unofficial chief of state.
However, former under secretary of state William D. Rogers, who worked closely with Royo in a last-minute mission to save the treaties last year, said yersterday that Royo is too strong "to act as a figurehead."
Rogers said Royo played "a crucial role" in negotiations that overcame the crisis caused by an amendment in the Senate that would have allowed U.S. troops to occupy the canal even after it passed fully into Panamanian hands in the year 2000.
Royo, a former education minister, declared in his OAS speech - delayed by a bomb threat that required a search of the building - that his efforts at democratization were going ahead at home along with efforts to assure protection of human rights.
Some U.S. congressional critics faulted the Torrijos government on both of those counts.
While Royo is generally credited with taking full control of the Panamanian government's internal activities, this trip marks his first venture in foreign policy. He is to see Carter and several members of Congress today.
At the OAS, he accepted a plan developed by the regional body for the future of Panama's Darien region, the last portion of the isthmus yet to be crossed by the Pan American Highway.
The Carter administration has started heavy lobbying campaign, the main aim is to convince Congress that continued trouble-free operation of the canal and good relations with Latin America require enabling legislation acceptable to Panama as being within the spirit of the treaties.
The campaign began Tuesday night with Carter inviting 100 members of Congress to the White House for what an administration official described as "an hour of dinner and an hour of salesmanship." CAPTION: Picture, PRESIDENT ARISTIDES ROYO . . . here for talks with Carter