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Dennis Rodman: N. Korea leader wants Obama to call

By Michele Salcedo

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 11:13 p.m. HST, Mar 03, 2013

WASHINGTON » Call me? Maybe?

North Korea's young leader has riled the U.S. with recent nuclear tests, but Kim Jong Un doesn't really want war with the superpower, just a call from President Barack Obama to chat about their shared love of basketball, according to erstwhile diplomat Dennis Rodman, the ex-NBA star just back from an improbable visit to the reclusive communist country.

"He loves basketball. ... I said Obama loves basketball. Let's start there" as a way to warm up relations between U.S. and North Korea, Rodman told ABC's "This Week."

"He asked me to give Obama something to say and do one thing. He wants Obama to do one thing, call him," said Rodman, who called the authoritarian leader an "awesome guy" during his trip. The State Department criticized North Korea last week for "wining and dining' Rodman while its own people go hungry.

Rodman also said Kim told him, "I don't want to do war. I don't want to do war."

Yet in January, after the U.N. Security Council voted to condemn the North's successful rocket launch in December and expand penalties against Kim's government, his National Defense Commission said in a statement that "settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be done with force, not with words." The statement also promised "a new phase of the anti-U.S. struggle that has lasted century after century."

North Korea and the U.S. fought on opposite sides of the three-year Korean War, which ended in a truce in 1953. The foes technically remain at war. They never signed a peace treaty and do not have diplomatic relations.

Rodman was the highest-profile American to meet Kim since Kim inherited power from father Kim Jong Il in 2011. He traveled to the secretive state with the Harlem Globetrotters team for a new HBO series produced by New York-based VICE television.

The visit took place amid rising tensions between the countries.

North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test two weeks ago, making clear the provocative act was a warning to the United States to drop what it considers a "hostile" policy toward the North.

Rodman said he was aware of North Korea's human rights record, which the State Department has characterized as one of the worst in the world, but said he wasn't apologizing for Kim.

"He's a good guy to me," Rodman said, adding, that "as a person to person, he's my friend. I don't condone what he does."

Basketball is popular in North Korea, and Thursday's exhibition game with two Americans playing on each time alongside North Koreans ended in a 110-110 tie. Following the game Kim threw an "epic feast" for the group, plying them with food and drinks and making round after round of toasts.

Rodman's trip was the second attention-grabbing American visit this year to North Korea. Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, made a four-day trip in January, but did not meet Kim.

Rodman said he planned to go back to North Korea to "find out more what's really going on."

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pandadaddy wrote:
And we should always believe a dictator when they say "I don't want war".
on March 3,2013 | 07:05AM
serious wrote:
In his first campaign Obama promised to meet face to face with any hostile leader. Still waiting!!! But, as HE said to McCain--the elections over.
on March 3,2013 | 07:05AM
allie wrote:
Rodman is, as he says, just a basketball player out of his element. That said, anything that reduces tension and gives even a tiny chance of less war is welcome
on March 3,2013 | 07:07AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Rodman is an opportunist. He has always been a self promoter and in it only for himself. He has no relevance politically. Anyone who remotely takes him seriously has been taken by just another of his attention seeking antics.
on March 3,2013 | 07:14AM
st1d wrote:
obama is ignoring this offer of opening talks with north korea not because dennis rodman is taking the headlines and the glory, but because former new mexico governor and u.s. ambassador to the u.n. bill richardson is leading the delegation. obama does not want to give richardson any positive publicity even if it means making a breakthrough with north korea.
on March 3,2013 | 07:18AM
serious wrote:
st1d, not sure what you are saying. Richardson was one of the first backers for Obama. Our President should invite the N Korean president to DC and talk--that's what he promised in his fist campaign. Get a one on one game.
on March 3,2013 | 10:11AM
mrluke wrote:
I don't think Rodman could locate North Korea on a map.
on March 3,2013 | 07:29AM
tiwtsfm wrote:
And just why is Rodman there? If the N. Korea's leader wants to talk to the US leader - then he should initiate this. Our overpaid know-it-all "super stars" should leave politics to the politicians. This kind of news reporting is frivolous, and ridiculous. Let's get serious.
on March 3,2013 | 07:29AM
mrluke wrote:
Absolutely correct. N Korea has had sixty years to initiate some kind of breakthrough. We have left the door open for them and have given them every opportunity.
on March 3,2013 | 08:00AM
serious wrote:
I disagree--"leave politics to the politicians"--look at the mess we are in?? Rodman might be the smartest of the bunch!!! Send Jane Fonda over!!!
on March 3,2013 | 08:05AM
pakeheat wrote:
are you serious?
on March 3,2013 | 03:15PM
pridon wrote:
This is the OBama administration's version of "ping pong" diplomacy, when US sent a ping pong team to China in break the ice. Rodman is Obama's Kissinger who arranged for Nixon's visit which opened the road to normalization of relations with Red China.
on March 3,2013 | 08:59AM
mrluke wrote:
Folks like you miss the whole point. N Korea soes not want any "normalization". If they did, they would have started it years ago. All they want is a little propaganda initiated by m0r0ns like Rodman.
on March 3,2013 | 09:29AM
NuuanuMama wrote:
If this is what it takes to open North Korea, then why not pursue it. Offer to help train a North Korean olympic team. Emphasize that you never know where your talent is coming from so feed the people so the ones with potential can grow huge like Rodman.
on March 3,2013 | 07:57AM
mrluke wrote:
Offer this, offer that...wait for nothing in return. You and Neville Chamberlain would have gotten along nicely!
on March 3,2013 | 09:32AM
Bdpapa wrote:
Dennis Rodman is an attention getting parasite.
on March 3,2013 | 08:33AM
pakeheat wrote:
No wonder he got Carmen Electra attention, LOL
on March 3,2013 | 03:16PM
st1d wrote:
bill richardson is heading up this delegation. as a former governor and u.s. ambassador to the u.n. it was his genius that put this together. using rodman as the carrot, he got north korea's dear leader to extend an olive branch to the dear leader in d.c.

obama will not allow richardson to take credit for opening up talks with north korea. he's too selfish for that.

on March 3,2013 | 08:36AM
Eric_Westerlund wrote:
Ping Pong helped open the doors with China in the early 1970's. "Basketball Diplomacy" might be a sound, light approach, however North Korea is very predictable in it's unpredictability
on March 3,2013 | 09:18AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Why the hate against Dennis Rodman. He's there, in N. Korea, spreading goodwill. The N. Koreans still thinks that the U.S. hates them, ever since George Bush called them "evil"...one of the three "Axis of Evil". The other two, Iran and Iraq. Bush wanted a war badly, so he picked the weakest, Iraq. N. Korea probably thought, it could have been them, if Iraq wasn't so weak. The N. Koreans think that Dennis is the complete opposite of what the average American wants ... a war with them. And Dennis is showing N. Korea ...and the world ...what Americans are... Fun-loving and very happy.
on March 3,2013 | 11:23AM
Bdpapa wrote:
He's weird!
on March 3,2013 | 12:12PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Weird, but at the same time, spreading good will. American good will. And the N. Koreans love it.
on March 3,2013 | 12:40PM
mrluke wrote:
How are things in La La Land?
on March 3,2013 | 12:44PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Partly sarcasm, but don't worry about it.
on March 3,2013 | 12:50PM
TAMASAMOA684685 wrote:
maybe its just a commotion...maybe this the last resort before north korea is invaded...its the new world order...and kim knows its coming....either youre with me or not with me.
on March 4,2013 | 08:42AM
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