CIA Director William Burns met in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Monday the director of Russia's foreign intelligence service, Sergey Naryshkin, according to a White House official.
The two spy chiefs discussed Russia's nuclear threats, an anonymous White House National Security Council official told the Associated Press news agency.
Burns and Naryshkin steered clear of the matter of Russia's war in Ukraine and a potential resolution to it, the official confirmed to the AP. Burns rather warned Naryshkin of the consequences should Russia deploy a nuclear weapon in Ukraine.
"We firmly stick to our fundamental principle: nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine," the US National Security Council said in a statement.
Monday's meeting is considered the highest level face-to-face for US-Russian officials since the war started in February.
He is also expected to raise the cases of two Americans, women's basketball star and former US Olympian Brittney Griner and former US marine Paul Whelan, who have been detained in Russia and face long sentences in a penal colony.
A US official told the AP news agency that Kyiv had been briefed prior to the meeting.
What did Russia say?
The Russian newspaper Kommersant reported earlier on Monday that Naryshkin was in Ankara for high level talks with his US counterpart.
The Russian Kremlin's spokesman Dmitri Peskov described the meeting to Russian media as an "initiative of the American side," without providing details on the contents.
Flight-tracking data showed a Russian government plane used by Naryshkin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov landing in Ankara Monday, Istanbul-based analyst Yoruk Isik said.
The meeting was not announced in advance nor previously disclosed.
Last month, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke by phone with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu.
ar/fb (AP, AFP, Reuters)