Officials in Washington and Beijing have agreed to high-level conversations between their militaries.

During a 3 1/2-hour virtual summit with President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to support such discussions between the U.S. military and top officials from the People’s Liberation Army, including the vice chairman of the country’s powerful Central Military Commission.

The White House is now defining a strategy on how to approach these engagements, including in the areas of cybersecurity, space and nuclear weapons, as well as testing and deployment issues of concern to the U.S.

The agreement is a further sign of thawing ties between the world’s two largest economies and comes after months of escalating tensions, fueled most recently by China’s test of a hypersonic weapon and a warning from Pentagon intelligence officials that China’s nuclear arsenal was growing more quickly than expected.

After almost nine months in office, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has yet to speak to his counterpart at China’s defense ministry.

Following their virtual summit this week, Xi and Biden agreed in principle to talk again, but the U.S. didn’t ask for a specific date or time.

The agreement to elevate ties between the countries’ militaries marks a step toward reestablishing regular channels of high-level communication between them.