Posted: Thursday June 29, 2006 1:49PM; Updated: Thursday June 29, 2006 1:49PM
SEOUL, South Korea (Reuters) -- North and South Korean officials struggled to make a symbolic dream become a reality on Thursday when they failed to agree on the details of a joint team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the Asian Games later this year.
Delegates from the South and the North could not overcome major hurdles such as the composition of the teams and the selection criteria during a meeting, officials said.
The best they could muster was a statement saying they had had "serious discussions" and agreed to keep on talking.
They met in Kaesong, just north of the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula, and agreed to another round of talks in about two or three weeks.
Still technically at war after the 1950-53 war ended with no peace treaty, the two Koreas first considered competing as a joint team at the 1964 Tokyo Games, but years of acrimony and military tensions meant it remained just an idea.
Sports officials from the two Koreas agreed in November 2005 to compete as a single sports team in Beijing and Doha, venue of December's Asian Games.
The two Koreas have marched together at Olympic Games, most recently at this year's Winter Games in Turin, but competed as separate teams.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge has said it is up to the Olympic committees of the two nations to work out a plan for a joint team.
A key question for the talks will be whether the joint team will seek a fair balance of athletes from the North and South or put together the most competitive team possible.
At the 2004 Olympics in Athens, South Korea won 30 medals, including nine golds, while North Korea tallied five with no golds. South Korea has a larger population and better-funded sports associations.
If slots for athletes are allocated on a quota system by country, the unified team would likely be less competitive and create bitterness among top athletes left out of the squad, according to some South Korean officials.
North and South competed as a single team in an aborted experiment in soccer and table tennis in the early 1990s.