American officials hope to meet "very shortly" with their Russian counterparts for urgent military talks aimed at resolving the Syrian civil war, Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday.
Speaking to reporters after he landed in London for talks on Syria with the British foreign secretary, Kerry said President Obama viewed the potential meeting with Russian officials as "important."
"The president believes that [military to military] conversation is an important next step and hopefully will take place very shortly and help to define some of the different options available to us as we consider next steps in Syria," Kerry said.
"We're looking for ways in which to find a common ground," he said.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter also spoke by phone with his Russian counterpart on Friday, in what the Wall Street Journal reported was the first such conversation since Carter became Pentagon chief in February.
The Pentagon said Carter and Sergei Shoygu discussed Syria and "areas where the United States and Russia's perspectives overlap and areas of divergence."
"The secretary emphasized the importance of pursuing such consultations in parallel with diplomatic talks that would ensure a political transition in Syria," the Pentagon said. "He noted that defeating [ISIS] and ensuring a political transition are objectives that need to be pursued at the same time."
A Russian defense ministry spokesman said the conversation lasted for one hour. The conversation showed that on "most questions that the ministers discussed, Moscow and Washington hold close and identical opinions," Life News reported, citing the spokesman.
Moscow and Washington have been urged to do more to find an end to the Syrian civil war, which is currently fueling an exodus of millions of refugees to neighboring countries and Europe.
On Thursday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the Obama administration was open to "tactical, practical discussions with the Russians in order to further the goals of the counter-ISIL coalition and to ensure the safe conduct of coalition operations."