Former NBA star Dennis Rodman praised President Donald Trump on Thursday for planning to meet with North Korean communist dictator Kim Jong Un.
Rodman is one of a handful of Americans to have met Kim in person.
“Well done, President Trump. You’re on the way to a historical meeting no U.S. president has ever done,” Rodman said.
The former basketball star gave the regime’s sports minister a copy of Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal, during a recent visit. He told the Associated Press that he wants to come back to Pyongyang for “basketball diplomacy” in the next few months. Rodman also asked Trump to send his regards to Kim and his family.
The meeting between the president and the North Korean dictator, which is expected to take place by May, is a historic achievement for Trump, who would be the first head of state to meet Kim since he took power. Kim agreed to Trump’s demand that denuclearization must be on the table for any meeting to take place.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in credited Trump’s assertive foreign policy for bringing about the first meeting between the two Korea’s in years. That meeting in January led to North Korea’s participation in the Winter Olympics, the meeting between Kim’s sister and Moon, and the follow-up meeting between South Korean envoys and Kim in Pyongyang.
“Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!”
Kim Jong Un talked about denuclearization with the South Korean Representatives, not just a freeze. Also, no missile testing by North Korea during this period of time. Great progress being made but sanctions will remain until an agreement is reached. Meeting being planned!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2018
Rodman, 56, played in the NBA from 1986 till 2000. He said he would like to “straighten things out” between North Korea and the United States, but also said that Kim is “probably a madman.”
The most recent summit between North Korea and the United States occurred in 2009 as part of six-party talks between the United States, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China. The summit ended abruptly when North Korea walked out.
North Korea ramped up its nuclear program shortly after Trump’s election. The communist regime carried out a series of ballistic missile tests last year and claims to have tested a hydrogen bomb. Trump responded by spearheading a series of tightening international sanctions and threatening military action.
Trump considers communism a failed and destructive ideology and has used the stark difference between North Korea and South Korea as an example. The majority of North Korean people live in famine and hundreds of thousands are believed to have perished in a vast network of forced labor camps.
“The Korean miracle extends exactly as far as the armies of free nations advanced in 1953—24 miles to the north,” Trump said in a speech in South Korea in November last year. “There, it stops; it all comes to an end. Dead stop. The flourishing ends, and the prison state of North Korea sadly begins.”
“Workers in North Korea labor grueling hours in unbearable conditions for almost no pay,” the president added. “Recently, the entire working population was ordered to work for 70 days straight, or else pay for a day of rest.”