Dennis Rodman Says He's On 'Mission' To North Korea

Dennis Rodman Says He's On 'Mission' To North Korea

Dennis Rodman Says He's On 'Mission' To North Korea

Dennis Rodman, the former National Basketball Association bad boy who has palled around with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, flew back to Pyongyang on Tuesday for the first time in Donald Trump's presidency.

He told reporters at Beijing airport on Tuesday that he believes President Donald Trump is happy with his visit "to accomplish something we both need". It's unclear the objective of Rodman's visit, but the former basketball star is one of the only Americans who's ever met current North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un.

Multiple people involved in unofficial talks with North Korea say that the Trump administration has been making overtures toward the Kim regime, including trying to set up a secret back channel to the North Korean leader using "an associate of Trump's" rather than the usual line-up of North Korea experts and former officials who talk to Pyongyang's representatives.

A retired South Korean government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the fact that a US official confirmed Rodman's visit to a news agency "could be a hint that the North and USA governments were engaged in some kind of talks". The NBA Hall of Famer is one of the only Americans to have met current North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un.

A foreign ministry official who spoke to The Associated Press in Pyongyang confirmed that Rodman was expected to arrive Tuesday but could not provide details.

Rodman is a rare individual who could claim friendships with both Kim and Trump, whom he worked with as a cast member for two seasons on "Celebrity Apprentice".

At the time of his visit, an American citizen, Kenneth Bae, was being held by North Korea on charges that he had planned an operation to topple North Korea's government with religious activities.

Analyst Daniel Pinkston, a lecturer at Troy University, said he did not believe that Rodman was going as a back-channel emissary from Trump despite USA media speculation.

He probably hopes things will go more smoothly on his latest visit to North Korea, which started Tuesday. Rodman has previously appeared on the Trump-hosted reality show The Apprentice, and endorsed Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. When asked if he planned to raise their detention with North Korean officials, Rodman said: "Well that's not my goal right now..."

Kim, who visited with Rodman in January 2014, is said to be a big basketball fan. North Korea is developing its nuclear weapons and missiles at an alarming pace with the stated goal of launching an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the us mainland.

Under a deal with Moon's conservative predecessor, the United States deployed key components of the so-called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system last spring to cope with what it calls North Korea's advancing nuclear threats.

Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, brought the older Kim a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan during a visit in 2000.

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