|East Timor||BISHOP BELO TELLS POPE HE WILL RETURN HOME SOON|
"Once the international peace force enters East Timor, I will return immediately among the dispersed people," Bishop Carlos Belo told Pope John Paul II.
More details have emerged about the meeting that took place on Monday. During the meeting, Bishop Belo said, the Pope agreed to his request to ask US President Clinton to take immediate action in getting an international peace force to East Timor as quickly as possible.
Upon meeting at the entrance to the Pope's study at Castel Gandalfo, the papal summer residence, the bishop, with tears in his eyes, greeted the Pope with the words, "Thank you, Holy Father. Thank you for your concern, thank you for your prayers, thank you for your support, thank you for your solidarity."
He said he told the Pope there is an "urgent need to get humanitarian assistance to East Timor. The people need food, water, medicines and so on."
During the meeting, he said, the pope agreed to the bishop's request to ask U.S. President Clinton to take immediate action in getting an international peace force to East Timor as quickly as possible.
He also told the Pope the story of his evacuation, which he later repeated to reporters in the Vatican. He explained that he was taken away from the 6000 or so distraught people who had sought shelter at the diocesan properties, and that the chief of police asked him where he would like 'to rest'.
He recalled telling the official that he 'didn't want to go anywhere,' but that if he was to be taken elsewhere, he would prefer to go to Baucau.
Bishop Belo said that the UN and Australian air force arranged for him to be flown to Australia, from where he would travel to meet the Pope, but that he had to get permission to leave from the militia chief in Baucau.
It was very hard to leave the people there, he said. "I wanted to stay among them, but I felt I had a duty to inform the Holy Father about this situation."
UCAN 12:12pm 16/9/99