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Rudd gets red carpet treatment at White House -

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ELEANOR HALL: On his first visit to meet the new US President, Australia's Prime Minister Kevin
Rudd was welcomed warmly not only by President Barack Obama but by the Speaker of the House of
Representatives and by the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who declared that the US has no
better friend than Australia.

Mr Rudd and Mr Obama spoke of a meeting of minds on their response to the global financial crisis
and the US President promised close consultation with his Australian counterpart on the war in
Afghanistan.

Chief political correspondent, Lyndal Curtis is travelling with the Prime Minister and she filed
this report from Washington.

LYNDAL CURTIS: For an Australian Prime Minister it doesn't get much better than this - being feted
by the power elite in Washington and they all had nice things to say about Mr Rudd and the country
he leads.

From the President:

BARACK OBAMA: I am very grateful for Prime Minister Rudd's friendship. He has been one of the
people who I have called on various occasions. I think he is doing a terrific job.

LYNDAL CURTIS: To the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton:

HILLARY CLINTON: America doesn't have a better friend in the world than Australia. A friend through
good times and hard times.

LYNDAL CURTIS: And the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi:

NANCY PELOSI: When it comes to the national security of our country from all and many other areas
of international relations, Australia and the United States are great friends.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The President extended his praise to Mr Rudd's whole Government.

BARACK OBAMA: There are very few countries that are closer than the United States and Australia and
Prime Minister Rudd's Government, I think has shown the kind of vision, not just domestically but
on the international stage that we greatly admire.

LYNDAL CURTIS: John Howard was called a 'man of steel' by the then US president, George W. Bush.
While Mr Rudd wasn't accorded superhero status, he would have been happy with what was described as
a working visit.

Just over an hour in the Oval Office with the media invited in for a press conference at the end
and as President Obama walked Mr Rudd to his car at the end of the meeting, an indication Australia
might have to get out its own welcome mat.

REPORTER: Mr President, any plans to visit Australia?

BARACK OBAMA: I would love to visit Australia. Of course I have been to Australia quite a bit. Love
the Australian people.

KEVIN RUDD: You are welcome anytime.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Mr Rudd also talked for about an hour to Hilary Clinton. They had their talks over a
working lunch.

Their discussions were similar to those held with the President - with the topics including the
alliance and Afghanistan and Pakistan. They also talked about a shared commitment to nuclear
non-proliferation and disarmament and Mr Rudd is believed to have talked about his idea for an
Asia-Pacific community in a discussion over regional architecture.

A spokesman for Mr Rudd says the two agreed on the need for architecture that reflects the
long-term challenges of the evolving region.

Up on Capitol Hill the topics were much the same although the Speaker did take some time to pass on
sympathies over the loss of Australian life in Afghanistan and the Victorian bushfires.

NANCY PELOSI: I think all of us appreciate the role that Australia is playing in Afghanistan and I
want to extend my sympathy to you Mr Prime Minister on the loss of, that was recently suffered
there by your, to Australian troops.

I also want to convey on behalf of the American people and the Congress of the United States our
sympathy on your losses in the fires that have beset Australia. As a Californian I have some
appreciation for what you have been through but of course not the full appreciation. So please
accept our sympathy on that score.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The dominant issues of the day were the struggling global economy and how to fix it
and the way forward in Afghanistan.

As the two nation's leaders prepared to head to the G20 summit in London next week, Mr Rudd would
have been pleased to hear that he didn't have to do much convincing to get the President onside -
singing from the same song sheet.

BARACK OBAMA: We spent the bulk of our time talking about the global financial crisis and what has
been happening with respect to our respective economies and the world economy and in the run-up to
the G20 I feel that there is a great meeting of the minds between Prime Minister Rudd and myself in
terms of how we should approach it.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Afghanistan will also be a long term challenge. President Obama says Australia will
be closely consulted in a US strategic review already underway. But the President is firm in his
belief that the war needs to continue to strike a blow against terrorism and Mr Rudd concurred
during the leaders meeting and later in meetings with Secretary Clinton and Speaker Pelosi.

KEVIN RUDD: This is the right and necessary thing to do given the loss of life which has occurred,
not just in New York and Washington and elsewhere but other places around the world through
terrorist acts where terrorists have been trained in Afghanistan.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The serious issues aside there was the apparently much talked about exchange of
gifts. The British had been upset by President Obama's gift to the Prime Minister Gordon Brown of a
boxed set of Hollywood movies that apparently that can't be played in the United Kingdom because
they are coded for the wrong region.

Neither Mr Rudd or Mr Obama risked that particular hiccup.

The Prime Minister picked a book about the President's favourite president - giving President Obama
a signed copy of Thomas Kennelly's biography of Abraham Lincoln also inscribed by Mr Rudd.

The President gave Mr Rudd an historic score of the Star Spangled Banner, the US national anthem -
no word yet though from Mr Rudd's office on whether that's a song sheet the Prime Minister will
sing from.

This is Lyndal Curtis reporting for The World Today from Washington.