SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Haruhiko Kuroda reaffirmed ADB's strong partnership with Australia during an official three-day visit aimed at further strengthening cooperation between Australia and ADB in joint efforts to fight poverty and promote development in the Asia and Pacific region.

In Canberra, Mr. Kuroda held high-level talks with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Treasurer and ADB Governor Wayne Swan, as well as with senior government officials, parliamentarians and development partner AusAID.

Across Asia and the Pacific there remains an unfinished agenda, to provide the basics to which every human is entitled, he told an audience at the University of Sydney. "Australia, which has been an important partner contributing to Asia's growth, has a large stake in seeing this agenda through to completion and building a stable and prosperous Asia," Mr. Kuroda said.

"Despite its remarkable progress, the Asia and Pacific region remains home to the majority of the world's poor," Mr. Kuroda said. "Rising disparities within and across countries are another major source of concern, and could potentially destabilize the region and halt its growth momentum."

While the region has made significant advances, poverty continues to afflict vast numbers of people. An estimated two billion people still live without basic sanitation and almost half a billion lack access to safe drinking water. "Assistance will continue to be essential to ensure that the region can complete its transformation equitably and sustainably," said Mr. Kuroda.

ADB has played a key role in Asia's growth story, lending critical assistance by funding a broad range of initiatives to help reduce poverty and promote inclusive growth among its developing member countries. The Asian Development Fund (ADF), ADB's concessional window, has provided vital financial assistance for many of the poorest and most vulnerable countries in Asia and the Pacific, including countries in fragile and conflict-affected situations.

Australia - a founding member of ADB and third largest contributor to the ADF - has been a key partner of ADB, collaborating on various programs and projects from the smaller, more economically vulnerable island countries of the Pacific, to the emerging economies of South Asia and the Greater Mekong Subregion. Australia and ADB have also pioneered new cofinancing collaboration models such as the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility and regional technical assistance programs like the Pacific Private Sector Development initiative to promote development.

"The region is now at an important crossroads, and many challenges remain. We know that Australia and ADB share common objectives, interests and concerns, which could provide the basis for strong and lasting collaboration for the work ahead," added Mr. Kuroda.

The ADB President also gave the keynote speech on making markets work better for development at the Crawford Fund's 2011 Annual Development Conference at Parliament House.