North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched a basketball game Thursday with Dennis Rodman, a former star player in the U.S. known as much for his tattoos and eccentric behavior as he was for his basketball skills.
The rare public encounter between Kim and a visiting foreigner took place in Pyongyang. Kim and Rodman, who is over two meters tall, sat together at the game, played by a mix of North Korean and American athletes.
Flamboyant former NBA star Dennis Rodman, fifth from right, poses with three members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, Pyongyang Airport, North Korea, Feb. 26, 2013.
Rodman arrived in North Korea Tuesday on a private good-will mission, accompanied by three players from the Harlem Globetrotters exhibition basketball team and an American film crew working on a documentary about North Korea.
Xinhua news agency quoted the eccentric Rodman as saying he is a "friend" of Kim and the North Korean people despite the "regrettable" state of U.S.-North Korean relations. North Korean state television also broadcast footage of Rodman and the Harlem Globetrotters touring monuments in Pyongyang.
North Korea has long portrayed the United States as a bitter enemy, although it has occasionally allowed Americans into the country for private visits. Kim is believed to be a fan of the U.S. National Basketball Association, where Rodman starred in the 1980s and 90s.
The Obama administration has not endorsed Rodman's "basketball diplomacy." Washington is trying to mobilize support for more U.N. sanctions against North Korea for carrying out a third nuclear test this month in defiance of international opposition to its nuclear weapons program.
Watch related video of Rodman in Pyongyang:
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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