The United States and South Korea announced on Sunday they will postpone military drills scheduled for later this month in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, which criticized the joint military air exercise as provocative.

U.S. Defence Secretary Mark Esper, and his South Korean counterpart Jeong Kyeong-doo, made the announcement Sunday in Bangkok, where they were attending an Asian defence ministers conference.

“I don’t see this as a concession. I see this as a good faith effort … to enable peace,” Esper said.

As recently as Friday, when Esper was in Seoul to consult with South Korean officials, there was no word on postponing the military air exercise, which had been called Vigilant Ace.

Seoul and Washington had scaled back the exercise recently and changed the name, but Pyongyang strongly objected, calling it evidence of a lack of interest in improving relations.

North Korea has demanded accommodations before it will agree to resume nuclear negotiations.