- (Photo: The Brody File)
Evangelist and noted humanitarian the Rev. Franklin Graham has recently stated that President Barack Obama should consider the apparent offer of a phone conversation with North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Un.
Graham, who has visited North Korea five times and has a charity organization operating in the Communist nation, said in an interview with U.S. News and World Report that it was a "golden opportunity."
Graham was commenting specifically on the recent visit by NBA star Dennis Rodman to North Korea wherein the former Chicago Bull met with Kim Jung-Un.
"I'm surprised, I'm shocked … I'm thrilled that the North Koreans accepted him so warmly," said Graham to U.S. News.
"If he doesn't do it, I believe it would be a mistake … I think it would be very wise to pick up the phone and call him and to begin a dialogue."
Graham also explained in his over-the-phone interview with U.S. News that the subject of basketball could be a good icebreaker.
"Here is the grandson [of North Korea's first post-independence leader Kim Il-Sung], who loves American basketball, who's asking for the president to give him a call," said Graham.
"It's a golden opportunity. What could go wrong with a phone call?"
On Sunday, Rodman was interviewed by ABC's George Stephanopoulos regarding his recent trip to North Korea and visit with its dictator, Kim Jung-Un.
Rodman told Stephanopoulos that Kim simply wanted a phone call from Obama as a way of smoothing over increasingly tense relations between the two nuclear weapons holding nations.
"He's proud, his country likes him – not like him, love him, love him," said Rodman regarding Kim. "Guess what, I love him. The guy's really awesome."
According to the online celebrity news site TMZ.com, a publicist for Rodman later stated that the NBA star, who was criticized for his remarks, regretted complimenting the regime without fully being aware of its extensive human rights violations.
In a statement by Amnesty International published Wednesday, the major human rights organization called for a United Nations inquiry to investigate the increased curb on human rights in North Korea. The United Nations is presently considering a resolution that would put sanctions on North Korea, a measure that has prompted Pyongyang to threaten to launch pre-emptive strikes against South Korean and United States targets.
Kim Jung-Un took power in North Korea in 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong-Il.