Dennis Rodman says his work as sports ambassador ‘resonated’ with North Korea and helped lead to peace deal

He also says the North Korean regime asked him to speak to President Donald Trump 

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Monday 30 April 2018 17:27 BST
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Dennis Rodman sings Kim Jong-un Happy Birthday on 8 January- the date widely believed to be the North Korean leader's birthday

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Dennis Rodman, the former basketball star, said his work in meeting with the North Korean regime over the years has “resonated", paving the way for the recent peace deal with South Korea.

Mr Rodman also told entertainment news outlet TMZ: “I don’t want to take all the credit. I don’t want to sit here and say ‘I did this. I did that.’ No, that’s not my intention.” Yet he said what he has previously called “basketball diplomacy” has “resonated until this whole point now. ... I don’t ask [President] Donald Trump for anything. You know, I like Donald Trump. He’s a good friend”.

The NBA legend has been one of the few Americans to have met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and did so twice - in 2013 and 2014. He has said he hoped to return for a third trip soon. The previous visits have been lavish affairs, akin to royal dinners.

Mr Rodman, once a guest on the reality television show Celebrity Apprentice hosted by Mr Trump, has been a supporter of the president.

“And I’ve always asked him to talk to me because he wants the people of North Korea — and the government over there asked me to talk to Donald Trump about what they want and how we can solve things,” Mr Rodman said.

The NBA Hall of Fame player’s comments come just ahead of a historic meeting between Mr Trump and Mr Kim, who have until recently exchanged fiery rhetoric and threats of war. Mr Trump has repeatedly called Mr Kim “Rocket Man,” even addressing him as such during his first official speech at the United Nations. Mr Kim, through the state news agency, called the US president a “dotard”.

Donald Trump says he 'believes' North Korea leader Kim Jong Un about peace talks

However, tides turned during the Winter Olympics, held in South Korea the past February. North Korea sent Mr Kim's sister, Kim Yo-Jong, to lead the delegation. The North Korean athletes actually marched with the South in the opening and closing ceremonies as well. She was the first member of the Kim dynasty to step foot in South Korea since the two countries split. US Vice President Mike Pence and senior White House advisor Ivanka Trump were also present at the beginning and end of the games, in what appeared to be a move to ease tensions and open the dialogue for future talks.

The time and location of the meeting have yet to be announced. Mr Trump has said the demilitarised zone - the area deemed neutral territory on the border between North and South Korea - as a possible location. Other possible locations that have been floated are Mongolia and various locations in Europe. Regardless, the ultimate goal for the US is to get the hermit kingdom to stop developing its nuclear weapons programme.

According to a South Korean spokesperson Yoon Young-chan, Mr Kim reportedly said: “I know the Americans are inherently disposed against us, but when they talk with us, they will see that I am not the kind of person who would shoot nuclear weapons to the south, over the Pacific or at the US”.

In a historic and opulent ceremony, the North Korean leader and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met in the DMZ to sign the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula during the Inter-Korean Summit and officially ended the war that began when the north and south split in a battle over communism and democracy that began on 25 June 1950.

After the summit on Friday morning, the US president immediately tweeted: “KOREAN WAR TO END! The United States, and all of its GREAT people, should be very proud of what is now taking place in Korea!” implying that he played an important part in it.

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