For the first time since Russian warplanes began flying combat missions in Syria, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with Russian officials in Vienna Friday.
The meeting will follow a visit to Moscow this week by Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad, his first known trip outside his country since the start of its conflict more than four years ago.
Assad owes Russian President Vladimir Putin a great deal. He was losing before Russian forces began operations against rebels.
The red carpet welcome for Assad, who has used chemical weapons on his own people, was a slap in the face to the West. It is seen as an effort by Russia to position itself as the leading power broker in the Syrian conflict.
"What I can tell you is, regardless of the visit, nothing's going to change about what we're focused on, which is two things: going after ISIL inside Syria and inside Iraq and trying to get at a political track, a political solution here in Syria," State Department spokesman John Kirby said during a briefing.
But perhaps something should change because Putin is outmaneuvering President Barack Obama on the chess board of the Middle East. The White House is now looking for a way to salvage it's agenda for the region.
Meanwhile, the United States, France, Britain and Germany have asked the U.N. Security Council to investigate and take "appropriate action" against Iran for conducting a ballistic missile test earlier this month.
They say it violated U.N. sanctions, although the United States called the test "entirely separate" from it's nuclear deal with Iran.