The Washington Times - March 24, 2009, 06:44PM

President Obama was asked today if he favored tighter regulations on hedge funds as one outcome of next month’s G-20 summit in London, after French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said in a speech Monday here in D.C. that this was one thing he wants to come out of meeting.

“I have not seen the quote from the French foreign minister, so I don’t want to respond to his quote,” Obama said following a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in the Oval Office.

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“Here’s — here’s what I’ve said — and I think Secretary Geithner has indicated as much — is that it is important for us to have a regulatory framework for various flows of capital and financial instruments that could pose a systemic risk to the system,” Obama said.

Now here’s what Fillon said Monday at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a speech I attended: “Hedge funds must be subjected to real oversight … We want a decision on hedge funds.”

Also, click here to read my somewhat lighthearted piece on Obama and Rudd’s meeting, and how the U.S. and Australia are friends again (at the head of state level) now that President Bush and former PM John Howard have been replaced as a duo by the two new leaders.

Here’s the top of the story:

The Bush-Howard connection has been replaced by the Obama-Rudd relationship.

President Obama declared that his meeting Tuesday in the Oval Office with Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was “a great meeting of the minds,” while Mr. Rudd thanked his counterpart for restoring U.S. economic leadership to the world.

U.S.-Australian relations were strained for the year that Mr. Rudd held office while President Bush was still at the helm in the U.S. The two men struggled to build a rapport in part because Mr. Rudd, leader of the liberal Australian Labor Party, replaced Mr. Bush’s longtime ally and friend, conservative John Howard, as prime minister.

Matters were not helped someone in Mr. Rudd’s government leaked to the press last year that Mr. Bush had asked the Australian leader, during a private phone conversation, what the “G-20” was, revealing ignorance of the Group of 20, the world’s largest economies.

At last fall’s G-20 global economic summit in Washington, Mr. Bush, 62, was noticeably cold toward Mr. Rudd, 51.

But now all is love and happiness again between the land Down Under and the United States.

“This alliance of ours,” Mr. Rudd said, “it’s a first-class alliance.”

— Jon Ward, White House reporter, The Washington Times

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