US bas­ket­ball star in North Korea to ‘open the door’

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

BEI­JING: For­mer Na­tional Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion star Dennis Rod­man ar­rived in North Korea yes­ter­day, re­turn­ing to the in­creas­ingly iso­lated nu­clear-armed coun­try where he has pre­vi­ously met leader Kim Jong Un.

Rod­man was sur­rounded by jour­nal­ists when he ar­rived at Bei­jing’s air­port to catch a flight for the North Korean cap­i­tal, which he said he was vis­it­ing as a pri­vate cit­i­zen.

“I’m just try­ing to open the door,” said Rod­man, wear­ing a base­ball cap with the logo of his trip’s spon­sor, a crypto-cur­rency provider for the le­gal mar­i­juana in­dus­try. “My pur­pose is to to see if I can keep bring­ing sports to North Korea,” he said.

Rod­man, 56, ar­rived in Py­ongyang later yes­ter­day for a five-day visit, re­ceived by North Korean of­fi­cials at Py­ongyang’s air­port.

Rod­man tweeted ahead of his trip: “I’m back,” adding he would “dis­cuss my mis­sion upon my re­turn to the US”.

Ten­sions have es­ca­lated on the Korean penin­sula over North Korea’s nu­clear and mis­sile tests, pre­sent­ing US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump with per­haps his most press­ing se­cu­rity worry.

Be­fore Trump be­came pres­i­dent, Rod­man ap­peared twice on his Celebrity Ap­pren­tice show and praised the real es­tate bil­lion­aire dur­ing last year’s elec­tion cam­paign.

“I am pretty much sure that he is happy with the fact that I am over here try­ing to ac­com­plish some­thing that we both need,” Rod­man said, when asked if he had spo­ken with Trump. The flam­boy­ant Rod­man, who has called Kim “an awe­some kid”. Rod­man has faced ridicule and crit­i­cism for his trips to North Korea. – Reuters

For­mer NBA bas­ket­ball star Dennis Rod­man ar­rives at Su­nan In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Py­ongyang, North Korea. PIC­TURE: AP

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