Dennis Rodman in North Korea again

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Former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman of the United States gestures as he arrives to check-in for his flight to North Korea at Beijing's worldwide airport. 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.

And despite speculation that he might use the visit to petition North Korea to release four American citizens currently being detained in the country, Rodman told press at Beijing Airport on Tuesday that it was "not my goal right now".

Rodman said the issue of several Americans currently detained by North Korea is "not my objective right now".

Analyst Daniel Pinkston, a lecturer at Troy University, said he did not believe that Rodman was going as a back-channel emissary from Trump, despite U.S. media speculation. "Thanks to my sponsor".

Rodman is heading to North Korea later Tuesday from Beijing.

Rodman added in the tweet that he would "discuss my mission upon my return to the US".

Rodman, a former contestant on Donald Trump's pre-presidency reality TV show "Celebrity Apprentice, "is one of the few Americans to have met current North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un".

The 56-year-old NBA Hall of Famer, who was heavily criticised for failing to raise the plight of a jailed USA missionary on a previous trip, said discussing detained U.S. citizens was "not my goal right now".

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Rodman has received the red-carpet treatment on four past trips since 2013.

Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, brought the older Kim a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan during a visit in 2000. We wish him well. A senior USA official said the State Department was aware Rodman was scheduled to travel to the North, but stressed he would not be there in any official capacity, according to CNN.

Four U.S. citizens are now being held by North Korea, including Otto Warmbier, a student at the University of Virginia given 15 years in prison with hard labor for the attempted theft of a propaganda poster in January 2016.

North Korean officials confirmed that he was expected to arrive at Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, on Tuesday.

The unpredictable Trump has offered some mixed messages to Kim Jong Un, saying he would be "honored" to meet him under the right conditions and once describing the young leader as "a pretty smart cookie".

But Trump has also called Kim a "madman with nuclear weapons" who could not be let on the loose.

Rodman tweeted that his trip was being sponsored by Potcoin, one of a growing number of cybercurrencies used to buy and sell marijuana in state-regulated markets.

He played for the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks and had the nickname "the worm".