Arthur A. Hartman, 89, who served as Jimmy Carter's ambassador to France and Ronald Reagan's ambassador to the Soviet Union, where he represented the United States through a tumultuous period of the Cold War, died Monday at a Washington hospital of complications from a fall.

In a diplomatic career spanning four decades, he held high-ranking posts under Republican and Democratic presidents and developed a reputation, the New York Times said, as "one of the brainiest and most professional members of the Foreign Service."

He made an impression on the French for his presence at artistic events. "Not since Benjamin Franklin," the Times noted, "has an American envoy to France been given such public recognition for his culture."

In Moscow, he continued his interest in the arts, cultivating cultural contacts, particularly with dissident artists.

He moved to Moscow in 1981 and remained there until 1987 - the longest tenure of any U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union since before World War II and one that spanned the years from the death of Leonid Brezhnev to the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev.

He led the embassy during events that included the historic summits attended by Reagan and Gorbachev in Switzerland in 1985 and in Iceland in 1986.

He also contended with crises including the downing of Korean Air Lines Flight 007 by the Soviet military in 1983 and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. - Washington Post