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Former U.S. basketball superstar Dennis Rodman said Saturday in Pyongyang that he has met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but did not say whether there was any breakthrough over a Korean-American missionary detained in North Korea.
It is the second time this year for Rodman to meet Kim. His trip came shortly after North Korea rescinded an invitation to a U.S. envoy who had tried to secure the release of U.S citizen Kenneth Bae.
Speaking to Kyodo News just before leaving a hotel in Pyongyang, Rodman said he "did not come over here to do" matters involving Bae and added, "I came to see the marshal (Kim Jong Un), that's my friend."
According to the official Korean Central News Agency, Kim, an avid basketball fan, warmly welcomed Rodman visiting North Korea again "as a friend" and told him that "he might visit the DPRK any time and spend pleasant days, having a rest."
DPRK stands for the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.
Rodman was quoted as expressing his will to contribute to boosting diverse sports and cultural exchange with North Korea.
Prior to his visit to North Korea, Rodman said he has no intention of raising the issue of Bae, a Korean-American missionary and tour organizer, who was detained last November while leading a group on a tour to North Korea's special economic zone of Rason and accused of "hostile acts" aimed at toppling Kim's regime.
Bae was sentenced in April to 15 years of hard labor and his health is reportedly deteriorating.
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