South Korea and the United States decided to postpone their winter military military exercises to support their current diplomacy involving North Korea, their defense chiefs said Sunday.
South Korean Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo and US Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the decision in Bangkok, Thailand, where they visited to attend the sixth Meeting of Defense Ministers of the Association of Nations Southeast Asia Expanded (ADMM-Plus).
The allies planned to carry out their joint air exercises later this month, called the Combined Flight Training Event, a scale version of the Vigilant Ace exercise that took place until 2017, before being suspended last year due to negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington on North Korea's nuclear weapons programs.
The measure announced by the two allies is given as an effort to resume the stagnant denuclearization dialogues with North Korea, said the Yonhap news agency.
Esper has hinted that the position of the allies remains flexible and that it does not close any door that could allow progress in the diplomatic field with North Korea.
Meanwhile, North Korea expressed its appreciation to Esper's comments about the United States' efforts to maintain its denuclearization dialogues.
Pyongyang has for years condemned the joint military maneuvers between Seoul and Washington as a test of invasion of North Korea, although the two allies claim that their nature is defensive.
North Korea announced that talks with the United States on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula were suspended, which were resumed on October 5 in Stockholm, Sweden, and accused Washington of its failure.
The North accused the United States of having reached the talks "empty handed," according to reports from the South Korean news agency Yonhap.
North Korea is subject to three sanctions regimes adopted in 2017 by the UN to stop its ballistic and nuclear weapons programs. These include restrictions on oil imports and bans on North Korean exports of coal, fisheries or textiles.