updated 12/15/2008 6:04:42 PM ET 2008-12-15T23:04:42

A Canadian diplomat who has been serving as the U.N.'s special envoy to Niger has been missing since Sunday night in the West African country, U.N. officials said Monday.

Officials said the vehicle carrying Robert Fowler, who served as Canada's ambassador to the United Nations from 1995 to 2000, was found abandoned Sunday night about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of Niamey, Niger's capital.

They said he was traveling with another Canadian from Quebec and a local Niger driver in a U.N. Development Program vehicle with "UNDP" lettering. All three were considered missing and there was no report of any criminal activity, U.N. officials said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said his staff was doing all it could to find out what happened.

"I'm also concerned about that. We are doing all our best efforts about his whereabouts," he said in response to a reporter's question Monday.

The three had been traveling on U.N. business around Niamey, a former French colonial outpost that is now a river port and trading center along the Niger River, according to Ban's office.

Lisa Monette, spokeswoman for Canada's foreign affairs department, confirmed that Fowler and another Canadian were missing.

"Canadian officials in the capital of Niger and other regional Canadian offices are actively engaged with local and U.N. officials and are pursuing all appropriate measures at this time, and following this situation closely," Monette said.

"Consular officials are in contact with the families to provide assistance and support," she said.

Fowler, 64, served as Canada's ambassador to Italy from 2000 to 2006 and as a foreign policy adviser to three Canadian prime ministers. He also has been a prime minister's personal representative to Africa and was deputy minister of national defense from 1989 to 1995.

He has since worked as a senior fellow at the University of Ottawa's new graduate school of public and international affairs.

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