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

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 7, 2014 

The White House says it has no comment on Dennis Rodman's trip to North Korea -- or his emotional appearance this morning defending the trip and his exhibition basketball game.

The former NBA player ripped into CNN’s Chris Cuomo Tuesday morning after the CNN host questioned Rodman's friendship with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and brought up American Kenneth Bae, who has been detained in North Korea for more than a year.

Press Secretary Jay Carney said he hadn't discussed what he called Rodman's "private trip" with Obama, but said the U.S. position on North Korea "and its failure to meet its obligations" to the international community haven't changed.

"And our views about Kenneth Bae have not changed," Carney said, adding that the U.S. remains "gravely concerned about Kenneth Bae's health, and continue to urge DPRK authorities to grant his amnesty and immediate release on humanitarian grounds."

Carney said he had heard about Rodman's CNN appearance, "but I'm not gonna dignify that outburst with a response."

He said the White House hadn't been contacted by Rodman about the trip and said it does not "vet private travel to North Korea."

He acknowledged sports exchanges and sports diplomacy "can be valuable," adding it was something the U.S. backs with direct support.

But, he added, the U.S. focus on North Korea "is on sharpening the choice that that regime faces between further isolation, further economic deprivation because of its insistence upon using its resources to fund its military program and fund its nuclear ambitions, or a decision to come in line with its international obligations and taking advantage of the opportunity to rejoin the community of nations and potentially end that isolation. That's the very clear choice that the DPRK faces."

Carney said he hadn't heard any discussions whether Rodman would be subject to the Logan Act, which bars private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments.

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