November 1 - A panel to study the feasibility of Hiroshima and Nagasaki co-hosting the 2020 Summer Olympic Games has been formed and is expected to deliver a report next month.

The panel is being led by Hiroshima Mayor Tadatoshi Akiba.

He said: "We want to clarify our philosophy in November and address specific problems in December."

At the first meeting of the panel held in Hiroshima, the city of Kitakyushu also joined the panel although it will not seek to co-host the Olympics with Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were devastated by United States atomic bombs in World War Two and later rebuilt into modern cities.

Tokyo, which last month lost a bid to host the 2016 Olympics, has offered to help Hiroshima and Nagasaki with their plans.

Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara said: "It is quite welcome that these two cities have stood up to go after the Olympics as a means of promoting peace."

He said he had discussed the idea with Akiba, an advocate of nuclear disarmament who has called for the world to be free of atomic weapons by 2020.

Ishihara said: "I told him that we will provide him with know-how as much as he may want."

But Tokyo may still decide to bid itself, Ishihara admitted.

He said: "We must decide our position while I am in office.

"What was difficult for Tokyo may not be easy for other cities.

"We must analyse such things before making a decision on Tokyo's position."

International Olympic Committee vice president Thomas Bach has said a joint Hiroshima-Nagasaki bid would have a "highly symbolic significance" but admitted that may not be enough as the Olympic Charter does not allow joint bids  from cities.

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October 2009: Hiroshima, Nagasaki Consider Joint Bid for 2020 Olympic Games