Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd left for the United States on Monday for talks with President Barack Obama expected to focus on the war in Afghanistan and the global recession.
Rudd will meet Obama for the first time tomorrow in Washington, looking to keep Australia's ties with its main ally strong after leadership changes from conservative to centre-left in both countries.
Former president George W Bush and Rudd's predecessor John Howard, who was ousted in November 2007, were close friends and partners in the so-called "war on terrorism".
Rudd said ahead of the trip he had developed a "good rapport" with Obama on the telephone, but rather than dwelling on the personal relationship, Australia wanted to work with the US on the big issues.
These included security in Afghanistan, global economic challenges, climate change and China's future role in the Asia Pacific region.
"I'm not saying we're going to agree on everything, our job is to look at everything in terms of Australia's national interest," Rudd told a television interviewer.
Rudd offered no guarantees if, as has been widely tipped, Obama asks during the talks for Australia to lift its troop deployment in Afghanistan from its current level of about 1,000 soldiers.