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Originally published Thursday, February 28, 2013 at 4:43 AM

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Leaving NKorea, Rodman calls Kims 'great leaders'

Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman has left North Korea after his unexpected round of basketball diplomacy. At the airport, he called leader Kim Jong Un an "awesome guy" and said his father and grandfather were "great leaders."

The Associated Press

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PYONGYANG, North Korea —

Ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman has left North Korea after his unexpected round of basketball diplomacy. At the airport, he called leader Kim Jong Un an "awesome guy" and said his father and grandfather were "great leaders."

Rodman is the highest-profile American to meet Kim since the authoritarian leader inherited power from his father, Kim Jong Il, in 2011. Kim and Rodman watched a basketball game Thursday and later drank and dined on sushi together.

At Pyongyang's Sunan airport on Friday, Rodman said it was "amazing" that Kim "was so honest." He added that Kim Jong Il and North Korean founder Kim Il Sung "were great leaders."

Rodman's visit began Monday and took place amid tension between Washington and Pyongyang. North Korea conducted an underground nuclear test just two weeks ago.

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