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POLITICS: PennAve

White House won't 'dignify' Dennis Rodman's 'outburst' on North Korea

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,North Korea,National Security,PennAve,Foreign Policy,Dennis Rodman

The White House on Tuesday dismissed former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman's latest trip to North Korea for an exhibition game.

“Mr. Rodman is on a private trip,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “Our views about North Korea and its failure to meet its obligations have not changed.”

“I'm not going to dignify that outburst with a response" Carney added of Rodman.

Rodman, the controversial, perennial All Star, got into a spat with a CNN reporter Tuesday when asked about U.S. citizen Kenneth Bae, who has been detained in North Korea for more than a year.

"Kenneth Bae did one thing,” Rodman told CNN, suggesting that the American missionary had been lawfully imprisoned. “If you understand what Kenneth Bae did. Do you understand what he did in this country? No, no, no, you tell me, you tell me.”

Bae has been sentenced by North Korea to hard labor on espionage charges that human rights groups and the Obama administration say are trumped up.

The White House has urged Pyongyang to release Bae.

Carney was asked if Rodman’s comments were “hurtful” to U.S. efforts to secure Bae’s freedom.

“That pursuit continues regardless of what’s happening this visit,” said Carney.

“I’m not going to address the assertions made in the interview because they don’t merit one -- a response or a comment,” he added. “We believe he [Bae] needs to be released and granted amnesty.”

Tensions between the U.S. and North Korea have worsened after that country's leader Kim Jong Un launched a number of missile tests in 2012 that invited a new round of international sanctions.

Rodman’s latest visit to North Korea — his fourth — along with a handful of former NBA players, comes just weeks after Kim ordered the execution of his uncle.

Rodman has argued that the basketball game could actually advance the American cause in North Korea, but the Obama administration has responded with a collective eye roll.

This story was published at 1:10 p.m. and has been updated.

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Brian Hughes

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner