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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Vorontsov, U.S. and UN Diplomat, Is Dead at 78

APYuli Vorontsov in Baghdad in 2003
Yuli Vorontsov, a veteran diplomat who served the Soviet Union and Russia as ambassador to countries from Afghanistan to the United States in a career spanning the Cold War and the Gulf War, has died, the Foreign Ministry said. He was 78.

Vorontsov died Wednesday, the ministry said, bringing a close to what it called a "glorious diplomatic path" that also included stints as ambassador to the UN, France and India. Vorontsov was employed at the time of his death as a special UN envoy seeking to account for hundreds of Kuwaitis and others missing after the 1990-91 Gulf War.

His death, the cause of which was not disclosed, occurred days after he returned from a trip to Kuwait, where he held meetings and prepared a report for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe said.

"Yuli Vorontsov's diplomatic talent shone in everything he was entrusted with," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Wherever he worked, it said, "his sharp intellect, high professionalism, gift as a negotiator, encyclopedic knowledge, fine knowledge of the countries where he worked and remarkable intelligence were brightly displayed."

A 1952 graduate of the main Soviet diplomatic academy, the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations, Vorontsov rose through the diplomatic ranks, from lowly assistant to the post of deputy foreign minister.

He took part in watershed events of the Cold War, from arms talks with Washington to the Soviet war in Afghanistan, where he was ambassador when Soviet troops withdrew in 1988-89.

Before his 1988 Afghan appointment, Vorontsov had served as ambassador to India and France and then as chief negotiator in arms control talks with the United States.

He was appointed Soviet representative to the United Nations in 1990 and became Russia's ambassador after the Soviet Union collapsed a year later, serving at the world body until President Boris Yeltsin named him ambassador to Washington in 1994.

In 2000, Vorontsov returned to the United Nations, appointed special UN envoy in charge of coordinating international efforts aimed at the repatriation of remains and accounting for all Kuwaiti and third-country nationals missing after the Gulf War.

"Throughout his career ... he showed dedication and tireless effort. He enjoyed the deep respect of all his colleagues," Okabe said, conveying Ban's condolences to Vorontsov's family and the Russian government.