FIFA's Blatter plans to visit Israel, Palestinians

The Associated Press

ZURICH (AP) -- FIFA President Sepp Blatter will meet with Israeli and Palestinian political authorities in April to push for closer ties between their soccer federations.

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 soccer'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 soccer relations and development in the Middle East.

Palestinian soccer 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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