Japenese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and US President Joe Biden on Tuesday agreed to enhance the bilateral alliance and closely cooperate towards a free and open Indo-Pacific amid increasing Chinese activities in the region. The two held talks on the sidelines of the COP26 Summit. After arriving in the Scottish city of Glasgow earlier Tuesday, Kishida had a brief conversation with Biden, according to the Japanese Foreign Ministry The two agreed to continue to jointly deal with climate change issues as well as regional issues, apparently mindful of the challenges and threats posed by China and North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, Kyodo News reported. Kishida told reporters later in the day he agreed with Biden to meet again at the earliest date possible, which could be later this year, to have more “thorough” discussions.

The Japanese leader already had phone talks with Biden after being elected prime minister by parliament last month, but it was the first time that the two met in person while serving in their current positions. The Indo-Pacific region is largely viewed as an area comprising the Indian Ocean and the western and central Pacific Ocean, including the South China Sea.

While Beijing claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan. China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and its efforts to advance into the Indian Ocean are seen to have challenged the established rules-based system.