Andrei Gromyko, the son of peasants, was born near Minsk in Russia in 1909. After studying agriculture and economics he became a research scientist at the Soviet Academy of Science. He later joined the diplomatic service and went to Washington during the Second World War.
In 1943 Gromyko was appointed as the Soviet ambassador in the United States. In this post he attended the conferences in Teheran, Yalta and Potsdam. After the war he was made the Soviet permanent delegate to the United Nations. He also served as ambassador to Britain (1952-53).
Gromyko became Foreign Minister in 1957. He held the post for 28 years and during this period was the main Soviet negotiator with the United States government.
George Brown met Gromyko when he was serving as the British foreign secretary (1966-68): "Gromyko was no politician and I always thought really just another exceedingly able party official. He, of course, did know the outside world and did not mind letting his sense of humour show or letting his hair down on occasion. His capacity to discuss and argue was to me very impressive, but, again, getting much out of him was a very tough business indeed and in my time certainly never happened again without the interval and the obvious line-clearing elsewhere. While I was at the Foreign Office it seemed to me that Gromyko was growing in importance. His influence seemed to be becoming stronger and he probably was playing a much bigger role than before in the apparatus by which decisions were made, and was becoming much less simply the machine for carrying them out."