WASHINGTON, Sept 18 — United States President Donald Trump on Thursday acknowledged that he had considered sending former Chicago Bulls basketball player Dennis Rodman to North Korea to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
“He really does like Dennis Rodman, I will tell you. It’s sort of great. I always said Dennis would be better than some of these staffs that they used to send over to get to know him (Kim),” Trump said in an interview with Fox Sports Radio.
The sudden revelation came after the show’s host asked if Trump and Kim had ever talked about basketball, reports Yonhap news agency.
Trump and Kim held three meetings between June 2018 and June 2019.
“He really did like Dennis Rodman. And they said we should maybe use him instead of somebody that graduated No. 1 at Harvard. Maybe we should use that and so I thought about that,” said Trump.
Rodman has visited North Korea multiple times on his own terms and has apparently befriended Kim.
“I hope it’s just a rumour that Kim is sick. Hopefully, I will find out more soon,” the former NBA star said in April after reports suggested Kim may have faced a serious health issue amid a nationwide lockdown caused by the new coronavirus pandemic.
Rodman, however, has been criticised for befriending and praising Kim who has held a number of Americans captive.
He is also said to have asked Trump to allow him to help improve US-North Korea relations.
Talks between Trump and Kim have stalled since their brief meeting held on June 30, 2019, inside the Demilitarized Zone that separates the South and North Korea, along with US-North Korea negotiations aimed at ridding the communist state of its nuclear weapons.
Trump seemed to insist that a breakthrough may still be possible by highlighting the Middle East peace accord signed earlier this week at the White House by the US, Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
“I have a relationship (with Kim). We will see what happens,” Trump said.