US Secretary of State John Kerry said he raised the sensitive issue of Edward Snowden in talks with his counterpart from Russia, where the US fugitive is in diplomatic limbo.
But Kerry said after an Asia security summit in Brunei that their discussions failed to yield any progress on an impasse that has strained US-Russian ties.
Kerry said after the talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the issue was more a matter for justice officials.
"So it is fair to say that we didn't discuss any substantive progress, but I certainly raised from our point of view how it fits within the context of our relationship...," he said.
"It wasn't discussed in a way that he [Lavrov] would be able to take any action on it, though I hope he will communicate the things I expressed."
The talks were the highest-level contact between the two nations since former US spy agency contractor Snowden flew from Hong Kong to Moscow over a week ago.
Little progress was also made over the war in Syria, which has further strained ties between Moscow and Washington in recent months.
Kerry said the US and Russia were committed to holding a peace conference on Syria, but that it would likely take place after August.
Kerry said: "We both agree that the conference should happen sooner rather than later."
But he said that the conference, originally planned for June, could not happen this month due to US-Russian meetings and that "August is very difficult for Europeans and others", a likely reference to summer vacations.
Kerry was finishing up a 12-day tour in which he tried to co-ordinate support among Sunni Arab states and Europeans for rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a conflict that has claimed about 100,000 lives since March 2011.
Russia and Iran are the main international backers of Assad.