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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 November 2005, 13:22 GMT
Koreas 'to unify Olympics teams'
A Chinese woman wearing colourful makeup and body painting has a sticker advertising the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games logo on her face during a beautification and hairdressing competition in Hefei, Chin
The two sides want to compete together in the Beijing Olympics
North and South Korea have agreed to compete as a single team in the 2006 Asian Games and the 2008 Olympics, according to a South Korean official.

The two sides have competed separately since the 1950-53 Korean War, though they have marched together at some recent sports events.

The official said that as cultural and economic exchanges between the two sides increased, "the mood was ripe".

Combining the teams will need approval from relevant sporting bodies.

Officials from the two sides are scheduled to meet in the North Korean border town of Kaesong on 7 December to work out the details of fielding a joint team.

"We had discussed to make a single team since we made joint marches in such international events for six times," Baek Sung-il, a spokesman for South Korea's Olympic Committee, told Reuters news agency.

North Korea's official news agency has not yet commented on the proposal.

But the South Korean agency Yonhap said officials from both Koreas had agreed to the proposal, first tabled last month, when they met in Macau on the sidelines of the East Asian games.

Thawed ties

The two Koreas have discussed teaming up before, but the talks always broke down.

Analysts cautioned that agreements with secretive North Korea are sometimes undone by the country's complicated political situation.

It is particularly sensitive to international pressure over its controversial nuclear weapons programme, and six-nation talks on the issue are due to resume in China next week.

North and South Korea have been divided since 1953 and remain technically at war since a peace treaty was never signed.

However, relations have thawed in recent years, with a number of projects designed to promote reconciliation, including a North-South railway and several rounds of reunions between families divided by the war.

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