United States and China agree to establish dialogue mechanism between their militaries for humanitarian assistance and disaster response practices on Friday.
The two countries, which have involved a bitter dispute over South China Sea, hope to avert the risk of conflict in the disputed waters with the agreement.
The framework deal comes months before Chinese President Xi Jinping's Washington visit and the countries are trying to ease tensions that have been increasing as China has accelerated the construction of artificial islands in the disputed sea and the US has begun surveillance missions in the area.
China protested against a surveillance mission by a US spy plane near one of its artificial islands in April.
Fan Chonglong - the vice chairman of China's Central Military Commission - and US Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno have signed on the China-US Army-to-Army Dialogue Mechanism, according to the Pentagon which added that the two armies could conduct joint military drills next year.
China expects the deal "to open a new channel for leaders in the two armies to raise and discuss issues of mutual concern, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster response practices," china.org.cn quoted the defense ministry as saying.
This is the first cooperation agreement between two armies, China Daily reported.
Hours after the framework deal was signed in Washington, China announced that its first domestically-made submersible deep-sea driller "Sea Bull" successfully completed its first test drill in the South China Sea on Sunday.
The machine drilled 60 metres into the seabed under 3,000 metres of water to collect samples, Beijing said. China is the fourth country in the world to successfully develop the technology to do this.
The Sea Bull uses 24 drill rods, which work like the bullets of a revolving pistol on a turn plate, to drill deep into the seabed.
"The successful experiment means that we have independently collect samples in deep water. This technological application will significantly promote our technologies in deep sea marine geological science and geotechnical engineering," Sea Bull project leader Zhou Yangrui told Reuters.