Iran and Syria will dominate discussion when the presidents of the United States and Russia, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, meet on Monday in Mexico, the White House said.
Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor to Obama for strategic communications, Friday outlined Obama's bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the G20 summit of the world's top industrial countries in Los Cabos, Mexico, on Monday and Tuesday.
The two leaders will meet for the first time since Putin's return to the presidency. Putin's absence from the G8 summit in Washington last month was seen as a snub in some quarters.
Obama will also meet on Monday with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, and on Tuesday with Chinese President Hu Jintao, after the summit closes.
Rhodes pointed to "good cooperation" with Russia on Afghanistan and Iran's nuclear programme, which will be the subject of a P+5 meeting in Moscow (US, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany) while the G20 meets in Mexico.
But Syria "has been a point of difference" with Moscow, Rhodes said.
Washington repeatedly charged this week that Russia is supplying weapons including helicopter gunships to the regime of Bashar al-Assad to use against opposition groups. Russia denies the charges.
But Rhodes said that Russia and the US "have been working to see if we can move forward in a common position through the international community in support of a political transition within Syria."
Russia has said it is not committed to the al-Assad regime, but it also wants to include Iran in discussions on the way forward - a "red line" that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has vowed the US will not cross.
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