Sydney, Nov.3 : A conversation between Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and US President George W. Bush has threatened to snowball into a diplomatic row between the two countries, after details of the private chat was leaked to the Australian media.
During a pre-arranged phone call between the two leaders, held during a dinner party at the Prime Minister's Sydney residence on the evening of October 10, Bush and Rudd discussed the G-7 plan for a coordinated response to the world financial markets crisis.
As Rudd argued plans to resolve the global financial turmoil should include Asian countries and should therefore be discussed at a summit of the broader G-20 grouping, Bush asked Rudd: "What's the G-20?", according to The Australian newspaper. The details of the conversation, which was apparently held on speaker phone, have since been denied by both leaders. However foreign diplomatic sources told Sydney's Sunday Telegraph newspaper that their Washington counterparts were "gobsmacked" at the leak of details of such a phone call.
Australia's opposition Liberal party has leapt on the reports, claiming it could damage Australia's ties with the US.
Malcolm Turnbull, the leader of the Liberal party, described the situation as a "remarkable diplomatic gaffe" and called for Rudd to apologize for embarrassing the American president. Alexander Downer, the former Foreign Minister who served in John Howard's government, called for an investigation into the alleged leak, saying it could damage relations between the two countries.
The G-20, a grouping of the world's largest industrialized and emerging economies, will meet in Washington on November 15, at Bush's invitation, to discuss the financial crisis.
Rudd is expected to attend.