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Dennis Rodman Returns to North Korea to Train Hoops Team

FILE - Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman speaks at a news conference in New York, September 2013.
Former NBA basketball star Dennis Rodman is heading back to North Korea this week to prepare for what he says will be a goodwill match between U.S. and North Korean players.

Rodman, who is one of the few Westerners to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, is expected to arrive in Pyongyang on Thursday to spend several days training the North Korean team. The controversial former player says he will bring a group of U.S. players to North Korea for a match on Kim Jong Un's birthday in January.

The names of the U.S. players have not been made public.

After previous trips to Pyongyang, Rodman described Kim Jong Un as a friend for life. It is not known if the two will meet again on this visit.

The U.S. State Department has distanced itself from the former NBA player's trip, saying he is not representing the United States, and government officials have not been in contact with him about his visit.