US official wishes Rodman well in North Korea

Wish you success in building a 'powerful Russia': Kim Jong-un to Putin

Wish you success in building a 'powerful Russia': Kim Jong-un to Putin

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is expected to arrive in North Korea later on Tuesday.

A senior USA official said that the State Department knew of Rodman's plan to travel to North Korea, but stated that the former Chicago Bulls player would not be acting in any official capacity. A senior US official stressed to CNN that this trip was no different, however, it is of note that Rodman has a personal relationship with both North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump as he appeared on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" in 2009.

North Korean officials confirmed to CNN Rodman's arrival in Pyongyang but did not give any details of the visit.

Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon also told reporters in Tokyo that the US has issued travel warnings to Americans suggesting they not travel to North Korea for their own safety.

Rodman, who dubbed the North Korean leader "an awesome kid" and says "I love the people of North Korea" has been on Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" show in 2009 and 2013 - making him the ideal middleman. The alleged assassination attempt also occurred in the wake of reports that North Korean agents were involved in the assassination of Kim Jong Un's half brother Kim Jong Nam, who was murdered with a lethal nerve agent in an airport in Malaysia in February.

"Dennis is not a diplomat or scholar of global affairs or security or diplomacy, so people should not have that expectation of him", says Daniel Pinkston, an East Asia expert at Troy University in South Korea, who advised Rodman personally during his previous trips to North Korea. North Korea has also tested 16 ballistic missiles this year, according to CNN. He arrived in North Korea on Tuesday.

"For a peace treaty, the first thing we need to do is to recognise North Korea as an independent country", Kim told participants.

Rodman, who is known as much for his piercings, ever-changing hair colours and off-court antics as his court skills, has developed an unlikely relationship with the North Korean leader since making his first trip there in 2013.

University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier has been held in North Korea for 15 months, and hasn't even been seen since March past year, for trying to steal a propaganda poster while on a trip to the state.

In a commentary on the 17th anniversary of the publication of the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration, the Korean Central News Agency said the two sides experienced "a precious era of reconciliation and unity" in that period. A senior U.S. official also confirmed Rodman's trip and said he was not there in an official capacity, according to CNN.

Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, brought the older Kim a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan during a visit in 2000.

In a previous trip, Rodman spent a significant amount of time with Kim and his wife, even holding their baby daughter.

The NBA star previously appeared on President Donald Trump's show Celebrity Apprentice.

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