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Sepp Blatter to visit Israel, Palestinians

ZURICH -- FIFA president Sepp Blatter will meet with Israeli and Palestinian political authorities in April to push for closer ties between their football bodies. FIFA says Blatter's visit was requested by the national associations' presidents at a meeting Monday in Zurich attended by officials from UEFA and the Asian Football Confederation.

FIFA hopes the two sides will sign a cooperation agreement before world football's member countries meet on June 11 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, ahead of the World Cup.

Blatter got a mandate at FIFA's congress last May to improve football relations and development in the Middle East.

Palestinian football leaders had sought FIFA help to ease Israeli security restrictions, which limited the movement of players, officials and opponents in and out of the West Bank and Gaza territories.

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