Russian and US envoys met for several hours on Monday, in Moscow for a discussion on the situation in Syria that was termed "open and concrete" by a Russian official.
The visit by Daniel Rubinstein, US special envoy for Syria, followed last week's meetings in Sochi between President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State John Kerry that were seen as a slight thaw in relations chilled over Ukraine.
The overtures come amid a new push for a political solution to Syria's disastrous four-year civil war. A string of rebel victories have pointed to ever-deepening weaknesses in the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia, along with Iran, is one of al-Assad's main backers.
The conflict has opened the region to hardline, violent terrorist groups like the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), which has taken over broad areas of both Syria and Iraq.
Rubinstein met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and other Russian diplomats to discuss "how to create conditions for a genuine, sustainable political transition in Syria" - one that would be consistent with the 2012 Geneva communique - the State Department said.
UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura earlier in May launched exploratory peace talks in Geneva with the individual parties, but the Syrian National Coalition has boycotted them because Iran was also invited.
The talks are aimed at developing the basis for a new round of full negotiations.
Bogdanov emphasized that he had not discussed a proposed next round of Syria talks - the so-called Geneva 3 talks - with Rubinstein.
"We did not discuss Geneva 3 concretely because it is necessary to prepare a format for this meeting," Bogdanov was quoted as saying by ITAR-Tass news agency.
He called Monday's talks a "sincere and detailed discussion" about implementing the 2012 communique.
But Bogdanov said that preparations for such talks must involve not only the Syrians but also "regional countries" who could influence the sides and play a constructive role - a possible reference to include Iran in the talks.
Rubinstein emphasized the "urgent need" to defeat terrorist groups through both military steps and a political solution, and emphasized how al-Assad's continued presence exacerbates "sectarianism and extremism" in Syria and the region.
Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the United Nations veto powers - which include Russia and the United States - to team up for a negotiated settlement to the war in Syria.
Russia's cooperation with the international community to restrain Iran's nuclear programme served as a model for Syria talks, she said.
Kerry's visit was his first to Russia in two years amid strains over Russia's involvement in the Ukraine conflict.
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