Viktor Posuvalyuk, 59, a Russian deputy foreign minister who was Moscow's chief Middle East envoy, died here Aug. 1. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Mr. Posuvalyuk was appointed deputy foreign minister in November 1994. Earlier that year, he was named President Boris Yeltsin's Middle East peace envoy, and in recent years, he has played a key role in negotiations with Iraq.
Vladimir Lukin, head of the international affairs committee in Russia's lower house of parliament, told Ekho Moskvy radio that he did not expect any radical changes in Russian policies toward the Middle East.
"There are several mature and serious people along with Viktor Posuvalyuk who know the Middle East region and who could assume his leadership in this area," Lukin said.
An expert in Middle Eastern affairs, Mr. Posuvalyuk joined the Soviet diplomatic corps in 1964. He served in embassies in Yemen, Iraq and Syria before becoming Russia's ambassador to Oman in 1988 and then to Iraq in 1990.
After returning to Moscow in 1992 to head the Foreign Ministry's Department of Africa and the Near East, he shuttled between Baghdad and Moscow in efforts to defuse several crises around Iraq and took part in negotiations to advance the Mideast peace process.
Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov discussed Middle East peace issues on Aug. 1 with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Egyptian Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, a foreign ministry statement said.
The Arab officials voiced support for Russia to continue to play an active role in co-sponsoring a Middle East settlement, while Ivanov expressed readiness to support constructive dialogue, he said, without elaborating.
The conversations and Mr. Posuvalyuk's death come on the eve of a visit to Moscow by new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, expected to discuss peace prospects with Syria and concern about Russian nuclear technology leaking to Iran.
In his free time, Mr. Posuvalyuk wrote and performed songs, and in 1996, he cut a compact disc, NTV television reported.
Survivors include his wife and a daughter.