Kim wants phone call from Obama: Rodman

Updated: 2013-03-05 09:38

(China Daily)

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Kim wants phone call from Obama: Rodman

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman (right) is applauding as he sits next to DPRK leader Kim Jong-un with other spectators at a basketball game in Pyongyang. [Photo/Agencies]

Dennis Rodman, the former NBA star known more for his body piercings and tattoos than international diplomacy skills, said on Sunday he returned from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea with a message from its leader, Kim Jong-un, for US President Barack Obama: "Call me".

Rodman appeared on ABC's This Week program a few days after an unlikely meeting with Kim in Pyongyang, where Rodman was working on a documentary about basketball.

The visit by Rodman and members of the Harlem Globetrotters came at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and the DPRK, after Pyongyang's nuclear test last month, which sparked global condemnation.

With the international community concerned about the DPRK's nuclear weapons, Rodman had extremely rare access to Kim. They attended a basketball game, where they were seen laughing and talking at courtside, and also had dinner together.

Rodman dismissed Kim's comments about wanting to destroy the US as rhetoric stemming from his father.

"He wants Obama to do one thing - call him," Rodman said. "He said, 'If you can, Dennis - I don't want (to) do war. I don't want to do war.' He said that to me."

But the basketball player - sporting dark glasses, his signature nose and lip rings, and a jacket emblazoned with US money - insisted so-called basketball diplomacy could be a way to bridge the divide between Washington and Pyongyang.

Rodman said he told Kim, who followed his father and grandfather as leader of the country in December 2011, that his love of basketball could serve as a foundation of a relationship with the US president, who also is a basketball fan and plays regularly.

"(Kim) loves basketball. And I said the same thing. I said, 'Obama loves basketball', Let's start there," Rodman said.

The US government disavowed any connection to Rodman's trip.


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