The United States and China have agreed to hold regular, high-level meetings aimed at setting standards for behavior on cybersecurity and commercial spying, the White House confirmed on Sunday.
The talks - first reported by The New York Times - have a wide agenda, focusing not just on hacking but also on developing ground rules for operating in cyberspace, an official told AFP.
In its report on Saturday, the Times said the talks are the "first diplomatic effort to defuse the tensions over what the United States says is a daily barrage of computer break-ins and theft of corporate and government secrets."
An unnamed senior US official involved in negotiations to hold the regular meetings told the newspaper that "we need to get some norms and rules." The first talks were set for July.
The development comes ahead of President Barack Obama's informal summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday in Rancho Mirage, California, the first since Xi took office in March.
"American officials say they do not expect the process to immediately yield a significant reduction in the daily intrusions from China," the Times said.
But "it is a serious issue that cannot simply be swatted away with talking points," said the unnamed US official, who noted that the meetings would focus primarily on the theft of intellectual property from American companies.
"Our concerns are not limited to that, but that's what needs urgent attention," the source added.
In Singapore on Saturday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel accused China of waging cyber espionage against the United States, raising pressure on Beijing over the issue ahead of Obama and Xi's meeting.
The Pentagon chief, speaking at a security forum attended by senior Chinese military officials, pointedly blamed Beijing and its armed forces for repeated intrusions into sensitive US information systems.
Hagel's remarks came just days after China's defense ministry dismissed a Pentagon report accusing Chinese hackers of accessing US weapons designs.
China says it is a victim of cyberattacks.