Australia will seek to “hit the ground running” in its relationship with a new US administration, Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says.

Smith remained tight-lipped about who he hoped would win Tuesday’s election between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain.

“We have to respect the American democratic process, so we leave it to them,” he told the Nine Network.

“But secondly, even after the election on Tuesday, of course, the current administration goes until the 20th of January.

“We have to continue to work with that administration, as we have been doing, positively and constructively.

“So we’ll deal with whoever the American people throw up.”

Smith said Prime Minister Kevin Rudd may seek to meet with the president-elect when he is in the US for the G20 meeting later this month.

“Certainly, we want to hit the ground running so far as our formal relationship with the new administration is concerned, and in terms of visiting the United States formally to pursue that, that will occur in the first quarter or the early months of next year, rather than occurring at the end of this year,” he said.

“But the prime minister will be there in the middle of November, (which) does present that opportunity and I’m sure he’ll try and take advantage of it.”

Smith said Australia wanted to influence the way the world dealt with the global economic crisis and would therefore seek to get the new president’s ear early.

“That’s absolutely right, and this may well be one of those occasions where there’s a bit more contact and activity than the conventions to date have seen.”

Smith said his government would seek to maintain the strong US-Australian alliance and encourage the US to remain engaged with the Asia-Pacific region.