Subject: AP: E Timorese Bishop To Visit Refugees In W Timor

Tuesday, May 8 3:12 PM SGT E Timorese Bishop To Visit Refugees In W Timor

DILI, East Timor (AP)--A prominent East Timorese cleric will travel to West Timor later this month as part of an effort to encourage the return of East Timorese refugees, a U.N. spokesperson said Tuesday.

Bishop Basilio Nascimento from Baucau, a town 120 kilometers east of Dili, will visit the Indonesian province of West Timor between May 28 and May 31 to meet refugees and pro-Indonesian leaders.

He will be accompanied by the chief of staff of the U.N. administration in East Timor, Nagalingam Parameswaran.

"This visit will help East Timor to pass on a very important message three months before their first democratic election," said U.N. spokesperson Barbara Reis.

"East Timor is a safe country, things are moving ahead and this a good time for those who want to register to vote in the election to return," she said.

U.N. agencies have estimated that around 50,000 East Timorese remain in refugee camps throughout West Timor.

Over 250,000 refugees fled or were forced into the province by pro-Jakarta militiamen and their Indonesian military backers after East Timor voted for independence in August 1999.

East Timor is currently under U.N. administration. The territory will hold elections for a constituent assembly on Aug. 30 and is expected to achieve full independence in 2002.

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