Former NBA player Dennis Rodman arrives in North Korea

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Former National Basketball Association star Dennis Rodman is expected to arrive in North Korea on Tuesday for a trip the State Department said was not an official us visit, CNN reported on Monday.

Rodman has said he is trying to "accomplish" something both he and President Trump need through this visit.

Asked if he would talk to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un about several Americans detained there, he said "that's not my objective right now".

Rodman has received the red-carpet treatment on four past trips since 2013, but has been roundly criticized for visiting during a time of high tensions between the US and North Korea over its weapons programs.

Rodman's next visit after that, in January 2014, included the surreal sight of him singing "Happy Birthday" to Kim at a basketball game and a freakish interview on CNN.

Dennis Rodman has made several trips to the mysterious country as he claims the tyrannical leader is a "good kid" - but what else is he famous for?

Rodman's expected visit to Pyongyang would be the first under Trump, a man with whom he has a personal relationship.

His publicist also pointed out that Rodman was in the unusual position of being friends with both Mr Trump and Mr Kim.

North Korea has touted its drone program in recent years, and South Korean officials believe its military has about 300 drones. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the ministry had not issued a formal statement.

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The fact that Rodman was going for such a short period of time raised expectations that he might be going to free the four Americans being held by North Korea.

In this undated photo published on September 7, 2013, on the homepage of North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, talks with former National Basketball Association player Dennis Rodman during a dinner in North Korea.

Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman speaks to the media after returning from his trip to North Korea at Beijing airport in 2013.

Sporting a baseball cap, sunglasses, multiple facial piercings and a black t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of sponsor PotCoin - a cryptocurrency for the legal cannabis industry - Rodman was greeted at Pyongyang airport by sports vice-minister Son Kwang Ho and journalists.

Rodman appeared twice on Trump's pre-presidency "Celebrity Apprentice" show and praised the future president on Twitter during last year's election campaign. But Trump fired Rodman for spelling his wife Melania's name wrong.

"We are aware of his visit".

He has previously described his trips - including one in 2013 with the Harlem Globetrotters - as "basketball diplomacy" but has been roundly criticised for failing to raise human rights issues or the plight of United States missionary Kenneth Bae, who was detained at the time.

The visit, the goal of which remained unclear, would be Rodman's latest to the nuclear-armed nation.

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