The White House said President Barack Obama told Russian president Dmitry Medvedev that the US is prepared to support Russian-led negotiations in Libya.
However, Mr Obama told the Russian president that the US would only back the negotiations if they lead to a democratic transition and long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi steps aside.
Mr Medvedev has joined the West in urging Gaddafi to step down, and envoys from the Kremlin have travelled to Libya to meet with representatives of Gaddafi's government.
Mr Obama and Mr Medvedev spoke on Monday.
Mr Obama also expressed his condolences for the sinking of an ageing cruise ship on a river near Moscow. As many as 129 people were killed in the incident.
The two leaders also discussed Sudan, Afghanistan and Russia's pending accession to the World Trade Organisation.