Officials from North and South Korea agreed Tuesday to meet next month to work out details on competing as a unified team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics (search), a South Korean Olympic official said.

The two sides had agreed in principle Sept. 8 to unify their teams for the 2006 Asian Games (search), and both sides have discussed the possibility of a unified team at the Beijing Olympics for some time.

The two sides issued a joint statement that said they would meet Dec. 7 in North Korea's border city of Kaesong to talk about how to select and train the athletes.

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Kim Sang-woo, secretary general of the Korean Olympic Committee, said there was optimism that merging the teams would be possible because of a thaw in relations since North Korean leader Kim Jong Il (search) met former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung (search) in an unprecedented summit in 2000.

"Since the two Koreas have started opening up, there has been considerable progress," the South Korean told The Associated Press.

Kim Sang-woo said the North initiated Tuesday's meeting in Macau as Korean teams competed in the East Asian Games.

At next month's talks, each side would be represented by a vice chairman of their Olympic committees, he said.

Athletes from the two Koreas marched together at the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the 2004 Athens Olympics (search) and the 2002 Asian Games in Busan, South Korea, but they competed separately.

The Koreas have been divided since 1945, and the two sides fought a three-year war in the 1950s.