North Korean soldiers stand guard during a high-level inter-Korean meeting at the border village of Panmunjom, North Korea on Tuesday. Tensions have eased but North Korea is calling for more changes that would place Seoul in a difficult position. Pool Photo by Jun Ui-Chel/EPA-EFE
Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Fast-thawing relations between North and South Korea have renewed enthusiasm for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, but North Korea may be using the momentum to request other concessions from Seoul.
North Korea propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri stated Friday the United States agreed to postpone military exercises until after the Winter Games, and credited the development to the Kim Jong Un regime.
"This [postponement] has been made so the United States could escape its difficult predicament, a country that can no longer ignore our leading efforts in improving North-South relations and securing peace on the Korean peninsula," the North Korean statement read.
"Dialogue and war exercises are absolutely incompatible," the outlet added. "The joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises destroy peace, brings all kinds of misfortunes to our [unitary] people."
The statement called for a complete suspension of all military exercises with the United States.
Prior to the inter-Korea détente that began with Kim Jong Un's New Year speech, North Korea had repeatedly called for an end to joint drills on the peninsula.
The United States and South Korea have defended the drills, but the two countries agreed on Jan. 4 the drills will be postponed and security be the focus during the Olympics in February.
The United States has shown consistent support for inter-Korea dialogue and the easing of hostilities.
Joseph Yun, the U.S. special envoy to the six-party talks, told his South Korean counterpart on Friday the talks are being endorsed in Washington, News 1 reported.
The two officials also discussed ways to use the momentum to find a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said denuclearization will remain the central goal in Seoul's North Korea efforts.