Kerry: As a diplomat, Rodman ‘was a great basketball player’

Olivier Knox
The Ticket

What did Secretary of State John Kerry think of Dennis Rodman's high-profile trip to North Korea—and the former NBA star's suggestion that President Barack Obama just ring up supreme leader Kim Jong Un?

“You know what? Dennis Rodman was a great basketball player. And as a diplomat, he was a great basketball player. And that's where we'll leave it," Kerry told NBC News' Andrea Mitchell in an interview on Tuesday.

The exchange came as North Korea, in response to American efforts to tighten U.N. sanctions as punishment for Pyongyang's latest nuclear test, threatened to cancel the cease-fire that halted fighting in the Korean War 60 years ago.

Rodman's outreach also got the thumbs down on Monday at the White House, where press secretary Jay Carney rebuffed the suggestion that Obama should just pick up the phone.

"The United States has direct channels of communications with the DPRK," Carney said, using the abbreviation for North Korea's official name. "And instead of spending money on celebrity sporting events to entertain the elites of that country, the North Korean regime should focus on the well-being of its own people who have been starved, imprisoned and denied their human rights."

Carney added, "We have urged the North Korean leadership to heed President Obama’s call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with its international obligations. North Korea’s actions, however, directly violate United Nations Security Council resolutions and threaten international peace and security."

"The United States has channels of communications directly with the DPRK, and those are the channels we choose to employ," he said.