Japan and India are seeking to contain China’s growing influence and assertiveness in the region’s waters by agreeing on strengthening bilateral cooperation on defense and trade, The Nikkei reports.

Monday’s top-level meeting between foreign affairs and defense officials comes ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Japan next month. Tokyo hopes to bolster ties with India – a vital partner that holds the key to important sea lanes in the Middle East – to keep China at bay amid simmering territorial disputes.

The two countries engaged in their first joint naval exercise in June and agreed to continue similar training activities. The Nikkei reports both sides will hold working-level talks on maritime security this year in the face of China’s continuous show of flexing its military muscle in Asian waters, threatening the sea lane between Japan and India. The two countries also confirmed defense cooperation in space and cyberspace.

Meanwhile, the US welcomed the Japanese-Indian security cooperation which coincides with a three-way working-level talks on the situation in Asia scheduled at the end of this month. The three nations also plan to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, The Nikkei reports.