George Stephanopoulos interviews former NBA star Dennis Rodman, March 3, 2013. (Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC)
Dennis Rodman returned from his much-publicized trip to North Korea last week with a message from Kim Jong Un to President Barack Obama.
“He wants Obama to do one thing: Call him,” Rodman, the flamboyant former NBA star, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on ABC's “This Week” on Sunday. “[Kim] said, ‘If you can, Dennis. I don’t want to do war.’ He said that to me.”
Rodman traveled to Pyongyang with members of the Harlem Globetrotters and a Vice magazine camera crew for an upcoming HBO documentary series. While there, Rodman met with the reclusive North Korean ruler.
“He loves basketball," Rodman said. "And I said the same thing, I said, ‘Obama loves basketball.’ Let’s start there.”
Rodman is the first known American to publicly meet with Kim, who has defied U.N. sanctions by continuing to develop North Korea’s missile program since assuming control in 2011.
On Thursday, Rodman attended an exhibition basketball game where he sat next to Kim, who welcomed "The Worm" warmly, the official Korean Central News Agency said.
After the game, Rodman told Kim, "You have a friend for life."
The unlikely pair then went drinking and ate sushi, according to the Associated Press:
At a lavish dinner later, the leader plied the group with food and drinks and round after round of toasts were made.
“I’m not apologiz[ing] for him,” Rodman said on Sunday. “You know, he’s a good guy to me," Rodman said. "He’s my friend. I don’t condone what he does … [but] as a person to person, he’s my friend.”
According to ABC News, the U.S. State Department had no involvement in Rodman's visit and have no plans to debrief him.
''Private, individual Americans are welcome to take actions they see fit,'' State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said last week.
Rodman, though, said he plans to return to North Korea to "do one thing and find out more, what’s going on."