Japan and the United States on Monday held talks on wide-ranging cooperation in space, the first such dialogue between the two countries.

The two sides agreed to cooperate in the satellite monitoring of ships and other space activities, according to a statement released by the Japanese foreign ministry after the first meeting of the Comprehensive Dialogue on Space, a bilateral consultative framework, in Tokyo, reports The Nikkei.

The forum was focused on a “wide range of interests, including resource and disaster management, environmental monitoring, technology development, scientific discovery, national and international security, and economic growth,” the statement said.

The two countries will cooperate on space-based monitoring of ships, a move apparently aimed at countering China’s growing assertiveness in pursuing maritime interests, AFP reports. Both sides reaffirmed their interest in joint “maritime domain awareness,” according to the statement.

They will also look into expanding their space exploration programmes, such as positioning navigation, and timing services from the US Global Positioning System (GPS) and its Japanese counterpart, the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS).

A legal framework for the provision of information on space debris from the US to Japan was also agreed upon, including cooperation on Earth observation and “weather observation from space and asteroid detection and mitigation to protect the planet”.