North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun, left, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman watch North Korean and U.S. players in an exhibition basketball game at an arena in Pyongyang, North Korea,  Feb. 28, 2013. (Jason Mojica/Associated Press)

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday denounced Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea, calling the former NBA player’s appearance a publicity stunt by the Hermit Kingdom’s oppressive regime.

“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 said.

Rodman, who played for the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls, among others, visited the country last week for a basketball exhibition with the Harlem Globetrotters, toured Pyongyang and had dinner with ruling leader Kim Jong-Eun. He called Kim “my friend” in an interview with NBC’s “Today Show,” and said Kim told him to tell President Obama to “call him.”

“I don’t want to do war,” Rodman quoted Kim as telling him.

Carney said that the  United States “has direct channels of communications” with Pyongyang, which angered the United States and its allies by launching a nuclear test on the eve of Obama’s State of the Union address last month.

“We have urged the North Korean leadership to heed President Obama's call to choose the path of peace and coming into compliance with its international obligations,” Carney said. “North Korea's actions, however, directly violate United Nations Security Council resolutions.”

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