WASHINGTON - Call me? Maybe?
North Korea's young leader has riled the U.S. with recent nuclear tests, but Kim Jong Un doesn't really want war with the superpower, just a call from President Barack Obama to chat about their shared love of basketball, according to ersatz diplomat Dennis Rodman, the ex-NBA star just back from an improbable visit to the reclusive communist country.
"He loves basketball. ... I said Obama loves basketball. Let's start there" as a way to warm up relations between U.S. and North Korea, Rodman told ABC's "This Week."
"He asked me to give Obama something to say and do one thing. He wants Obama to do one thing, call him," said Rodman, who called the authoritarian leader an "awesome guy" during his trip. The State Department criticized North Korea last week for "wining and dining" Rodman while its own people go hungry.
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Rodman said he was aware of North Korea's human rights record, which the State Department has characterized as one of the worst in the world, but said he wasn't apologizing for Kim.
"He's a good guy to me," Rodman said, adding, that "as a person to person, he's my friend. I don't condone what he does."
Basketball is popular in North Korea, and Thursday's exhibition game with two Americans playing on each team alongside North Koreans ended in a 110-110 tie. Following the game Kim threw an "epic feast" for the group, plying them with food and drinks and making round after round of toasts.
Rodman's trip was the second attention-grabbing American visit this year to North Korea. Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, made a four-day trip in January, but did not meet Kim.
Rodman said he planned to go back to North Korea to "find out more what's really going on."
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