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Australian leader in US for talks

By Phil Mercer
BBC News, Sydney

US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (L) confers with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Washington, 23 March 2009
Rudd, right, is expected to call for the reform of troubled US banks

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is preparing for his first meeting with US President Barack Obama.

The global financial crisis will feature heavily during Mr Rudd's discussions in Washington.

He is expected to call for the reform of troubled US banks and the eradication of so-called toxic debt.

During his two-week trip overseas, Mr Rudd will also head to London for a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 developed and developing nations.

Flying into the heart of the global financial emergency, the prime minister has arrived in the US equipped with a plan to help relieve the pressure.

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Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan said Mr Rudd's ideas for a co-ordinated international response to the financial crisis could help ailing economies recover.

"It's very important that the world deals with this problem of toxic assets in the banking system, particularly in the developed world," he said.

"If credit can flow again then fiscal stimulus or economic stimulus put in place by many countries around the world can become even more effective than it is at the moment."

Climate change and the war in Afghanistan will also be discussed during Mr Rudd's White House meeting with Mr Obama.

The Australian leader is keen to maintain his country's close economic and military ties with the US.

He will then take his vision for cleaning up the global banking sector to the G20 summit in London.

There he is expected to call for more resources to be made available to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), allowing it soften the impact of further financial shocks should they occur in eastern Europe and the developing world.

The Rudd government also wants China to play a more active role in the IMF to help the global economy recover from its dramatic downturn.



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