The United States and South Korea on Sunday announced that they are postponing a joint military air exercise criticized by North Korea as provocative in a bid to keep alive foundering nuclear talks with Pyongyang.

"After close consultation and careful consideration, Minister Jeong and I've jointly decided to postpone this month's Combined Flying Training Event," U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at a joint news conference with his South Korean counterpart, Jeong Kyeong-doo, on the sidelines of a regional security meeting in Bangkok.

"We have made this decision as an act of goodwill to contribute to an environment conducive to diplomacy and the advancement of peace," Esper said. "We encourage the DPRK to demonstrate the same goodwill as the considerate decision on conduct of training, exercise and testing."