- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 3, 2013

NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman has became America’s de facto ambassador to North Korea

After spending time last week with that nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, the eccentric basketball star returned to the United States with the dictator’s personal message for President Obama.

“He wants Obama to do one thing: call him. He told me that. He said ‘I don’t want to do war,’” Mr. Rodman said on ABC’s “This Week,” his first interview since his trip to North Korea.

While tensions between the U.S. and North Korea remain high, Mr. Rodman and Mr. Kim found common ground in their mutual love of basketball. 

“He loves basketball. … Obama loves basketball. Let’s start there,” he said, urging the two leaders to begin a man-to-man dialogue.

The trip has put Mr. Rodman, one of the most controversial stars in sports history, in the unique position of having as much firsthand knowledge of the young North Korean dictator as virtually anyone else in the United States.

He said Mr. Kim’s threats and saber-rattling are “coming from his father,” the late Kim Jong-il, and do not represent the young ruler’s true feelings.

“He’s not his dad. He’s not his grandpa. He’s 28 years old,” Mr. Rodman said. “He’s just a great guy … I’m not apologizing for him. He’s my friend. I don’t condone what he does, but person to person, he’s my friend.”

Mr. Rodman also vowed to “go back and find out more,” setting the stage for a return to North Korea.

The State Department has distanced itself from the Rodman trip, which took place amid heightened international concerns over North Korea’s recent underground nuclear test, as well as the communist nation’s threats against democratic South Korea. 


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