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March 03, 2013

Rodman Says N. Korean Leader Wants President Obama To Call Him

by VOA News

Former U.S. basketball star Dennis Rodman, who recently visited North Korea, says that country's leader Kim Jong Un wants U.S. President Barack Obama to telephone him.

"I think he's going to change something because he's got a different view, 'cause I sat with him for two days. And the one thing he asked me to give (President Barack) Obama something to say and do one thing. He wants Obama to do one thing: Call him."

Rodman told ABC television's This Week program that North Korea's young leader likes basketball, as does President Obama, and Rodman suggested that the two could start bonding over their common interest in the sport.

The former NBA player, known for his flamboyant look and provocative statements, spoke after returning from a trip to the communist country where he was filming a documentary. He said he does not condone everything Kim Jong Un does, but that he likes him as a person and considers him a friend.

The U.S. State Department has made it clear that Rodman's visit was strictly private. Officials criticized North Korea last week for wining and dining the former star while its own people go hungry.

Rodman was the highest-profile American to meet Kim Jong Un since he inherited power from his father Kim Jong Il in 2011.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated since North Korea's rocket launch in December and its third nuclear test last month.