Australian PM Kevin Rudd, Obama may differ on Afghanistan

Unlike on his last visit to Washington, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will find a kindred spirit in the White House when he meets Tuesday with President Barack Obama. The two have similar views on key issues, including climate change and the Iraq war. The most pressing item on their agenda, however, could be the most contentious: Obama's hope for a greater troop commitment to the war in Afghanistan. Obama is boosting the number of US troops in Afghanistan and pushing for more international help in the 7-year-old war against resurgent Taliban fighters. Rudd has suggested Australia is unlikely to substantially increase troop numbers in Afghanistan, saying recently that Australia's level of some 1,000 troops is "about right." After a late morning meeting with Obama at the White House, Rudd was to hold talks over lunch with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Speaking to Australian reporters in Washington, Rudd said Australia's commitment to keeping its troops in Afghanistan was not a blank check.