Tapping a spy-master with close ties to the Arab world to lead Russia’s foreign policy, President Boris N. Yeltsin on Tuesday appointed former intelligence chief Yevgeny M. Primakov as his new foreign minister.
Primakov, 66, has directed the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service for the past five years.
But Primakov may be best known as a Middle East expert. Fluent in Arabic, he spent years in the region as a journalist for the newspaper Pravda, and has nurtured a relationship with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Although he has concentrated on the Middle East, he speaks English and is not considered a hard-line foe of the West.