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East Timor Bishop visits West Timor

East Timorese Bishop Basilio Nascimento has arrived in Indonesian West Timor at the start of a three-day visit to encourage tens of thousands of East Timorese refugees to return home.

He says he hopes his visit will promote reconciliation between the refugees - many of whom opposed independence in a 1999 UN-sponsored referendum - and East Timorese residents, most of whom voted to secede.

Bishop Nascimento, who is accompanied by five East Timorese community leaders, says he will tell the refugees that their homeland was waiting for them to come back.

More than 250,000 East Timorese were forced to flee their homes after the 1999 ballot by rampaging anti-independence militias, supported by Indonesia's army.

Most of the refugees have already returned home. Aid agencies estimate about 50,000 remain.