MOSCOW -- Georgy Korniyenko, who served at the Soviet Embassy in Washington during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and later was a deputy foreign minister, died Wednesday at age 81, Russian officials said.
''He has brought a huge personal contribution to the implementation of the nation's foreign policy course and settling difficult and acute international problems," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Mr. Korniyenko joined the Soviet Foreign Ministry in 1949. After serving in the Soviet Embassy during the missile crisis that put the two nations on the edge of nuclear war, he was named to head the Soviet Foreign Ministry's American desk in 1964.
Mr. Korniyenko was named deputy to Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in 1975 and became his first deputy two years later. He played an active role in crafting the Soviet policy toward the United States and helped set the agenda for the US-Soviet disarmament talks in the 1970s and the 1980s. He was named a Soviet Hero of Socialist Labor in 1985.
He sometimes clashed with the Soviet elite on foreign policy.
When a Soviet fighter shot down a Korean airliner that intruded into Soviet airspace in 1983, killing all 269 people on board, Mr. Korniyenko opposed the official Kremlin course on the incident. He vainly urged the Communist Party leadership to release more information about it to avoid international isolation.
He also opposed the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.