Dennis Rodman Is Back In North Korea, 'Trying To Open A Door'

Dennis Rodman Is Back In North Korea, 'Trying To Open A Door'

In Tokyo, a visiting senior USA official said Rodman's trip is as a private citizen.

Former NBA player Dennis Rodman is now in North Korea, returning to the isolated nation to try to "open a door" with leader Kim Jong Un, he told reporters before his flight departed from Beijing on Tuesday. In a subsequent tweet, he thanked PotCoin, a digital currency for buying and selling weed, "for sponsoring my mission".

Asked if he would talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un about several Americans detained there, he said "that's not my goal right now".

After his first visit in February 2013, Rodman called the North Korean leader "a friend for life" and advised President Obama to "pick up the phone and call him".

Mr Rodman's visit comes after North Korea tested a number of missiles with the intention of developing a nuclear-tipped rocket capable of hitting the US.

"We have no comment on Mr Warmbier's condition, out of respect for him and his family", Tillerson told United States senators at the start of a hearing into his budget.

American visitors have often been detained in North Korea on charges of anti-state and other unspecified crimes.

In the same 24 hours, Otto Warmbier, that student who was accused of attempting to steal a propaganda poster from his hotel room while visiting North Korea (he was found guilty of "subversion" and "hostile policy", and was sentenced to a 15-year prison term in March 2016), was medically evacuated from the country in a coma, according to the State Department. It wasn't immediately clear whether the release was connected to Rodman's visit.

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State Department Secretary Rex Tillerson said in a statement that Warmbier's release had been secured at the direction of President Donald Trump.

Analyst Daniel Pinkston, a lecturer at Troy University, said he did not believe that Rodman was going as a back-channel emissary from Trump despite U.S. media speculation.

It's unclear if President Donald Trump was aware of Rodman's travel plans. Asked if he meant to bring up their detention to country officials, the National Basketball Association legend stated: "Well that's not my objective right now..."

At the start of the exhibition game, Rodman sang "Happy Birthday" to Kim, who was seated in the arena, and bowed deeply as the North Korean players clapped.

There is no way of knowing yet whether the North Korean version of events is true, but the Warmbiers were told their son was in a coma the whole time.

His entourage included Joseph Terwilliger, a professor who has accompanied Rodman on previous trips to North Korea.

North Korea regularly accuses Washington and Seoul of sending spies to overthrow its government to enable the US -backed South Korean government to take control of the Korean Peninsula. "We have been told that he has been in that condition since March of 2016".

Although details concerning the exact goal of Rodman's visit remain unknown, some analysts believe the retired basketball star is seeking to relay a message from President Donald Trump, who had previously lauded his attempts to engage North Korea following the country's repeated recent attempts to launch nuclear missile strikes.

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