China is among 16 countries exploring cooperative lunar and Mars probes with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Reuters reported. After a just concluded meeting in Washington, a NASA official said it was precedent-setting to have the Chinese attend, adding that the State Department approved the idea of inviting a Chinese delegation after President George W. Bush urged international participation in the exploration effort. No agreements were made, but representatives from the 16 countries plus the European Commission agreed to meet next year. Asian participants also included India, Japan and South Korea. NASA has been hit with budget problems, which partially explains US enthusiasm for more foreign participation in its space projects.