Bombay — The former Prime Minister, Mr. Morarji Desai, would drop his defamation charges against the Pulitzer prizewinning author, Mr. Syemour M. Hersh, if the letter tendered an unconditional apology and agreed to reimburse, the expenses incurred by Mr. Desai’s lawyers.

Mr. Desai was responding in Bombay on Tuesday to a question as to whether it was true that the American investigative reporter was negotiating a settlement. Mr. Desai said he did not know the status of these negotiations which Mr. Hersh was reported to be having with the lawyers in Chicago.

A committee of local Indians in Chicago had filed a lawsuit on Mr. Desai’s behalf demanding $30 million against Mr. Hersh and his publishers, the Sumitt Book of New York, for certain allegations in his book. ““The price of power: Henry Kissinger in the Nixon White House.” Mr. Hersh had charged that Mr. Desai had been a paid informant for the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) until 1970, receiving $20,000 a year. There’ were recent reports that Mr. Desai would agree to a scaled down settlement and donate the amount of damages to an institution of his choice.

On the current spy scandal, the biggest in Indian history. Mr. Desai observed that if it had occurred during the Janata regime, the Congress (I) would have blown it up out of all proportion. According to him, the nation had a glorious future although it was in “a mess”’ at present. He explained, however, that people can only hope to improve upon themselves if they passed through trying times.

Article extracted from this publication >>  February 22, 1985