Former NBA player Dennis Rodman arrives in North Korea

Ex-NBA player Dennis Rodman expected to arrive in North Korea on Tuesday

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman arrived in North Korea Tuesday amid escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang and three days after the regime threatened to test an intercontinental ballistic missile powerful enough to reach the us mainland at "any time" its leader Kim Jong-un wishes.

Former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman said on Tuesday he was on his way to North Korea as a private citizen, returning to the isolated country where he has previously met leader Kim Jong Un. "But we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety", he said.

The goal of Rodman's visit remains unclear, though it comes amid heightened tensions between the USA and North Korea over Pyongyang's nuclear program.

Mr Rodman was spotted in Beijing's worldwide airport en route to Pyongyang, his fifth time in the isolated dictatorship, and his first since a disastrous visit in 2014 during which he was denounced for singing Happy Birthday to Mr Kim.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is reportedly getting ready to reignite an old controversy.

North Korean officials confirmed to CNN Rodman's arrival in Pyongyang but did not give any details of the visit.

North Korea believes its missile programme is the only way to deter Washington from trying to overthrow the Kim Jong-un regime.

"They were looking at ways to do that and this was one of the instruments they were looking at, and the foreign ministry thought it was advisable to formally extend an invitation", he told AFP.


Mr Trump called Rodman "smart" for his 2013 trip to North Korea, NK News reported.

Rodman tweeted that he was "headed to North Korea" on behalf of PotCoin, a website that facilitates legal cannabis transactions. When asked if he planned to raise their detention with North Korean officials, Rodman said: "Well that's not my objective right now..."

Rodman routinely distances himself from political events in North Korea.

It would be the fifth visit by Rodman since February 2013 when he first visited the North in what could be seen as "basketball diplomacy". Trump fired Rodman in both seasons.

During his 2014 trip to the North, Rodman made remarks that appeared to blame Kenneth Bae, a Korean-American man who was held in captivity in North Korea from 2012-2014, for his detention.

As details of his trip remained elusive, people wondered whether Rodman's visit in North Korea was a unique opportunity for America to negotiate peace in the region or even broker a deal to release four Americans now detained there.

"We are aware of his visit".

In comments carried by global media and in his first public statement on the visit, he did, however, say he would try to "make something happen" regarding the four detained men, while stressing that he was visiting North Korea as a private citizen and not at the behest of the State Department.

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