US troop immunity deal 'largely resolved,' says Blumenthal

Officials from the White House and Pentagon are still going over the details of an immunity plan, but the major roadblocks on a deal are no longer an issue, Sen. Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalDem leaders amp up calls for bipartisan ObamaCare fixes Three Dem senators call for 'immediate review' of Kushner's security clearance AT&T, Time Warner hit bumps on way to merger MORE (D-Conn.) told The Hill on Tuesday. 

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If finalized, U.S. forces left behind in Afghanistan would not be subject to criminal prosecution by Afghan courts for counterterrorism or other combat operations conducted in the country after 2014. 

Blumenthal, who just returned from a visit to Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and American commanders to discuss the issue of U.S. troop immunity and other matters concerning the administration's 2014 troop drawdown and the overall postwar strategy for Afghanistan.

"I found our conversation with President Karzai very encouraging, as well as our conversations with some of the commanders in the progress that is being made," he said during a press conference Tuesday. 

The Connecticut Democrat accompanied Sens. John McCainJohn McCainSenators ask for Syria policy study in defense bill Arizona senator: McCain still focused on healthcare legislation Trump declines invitation to address NAACP MORE (R-Ariz.), Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteOPINION: Democracy will send ISIS to the same grave as communism Kelly Ayotte joins defense contractor's board of directors Week ahead: Comey firing dominates Washington MORE (R-N.H.), Chris CoonsChris CoonsDemocrats go in for the kill on ObamaCare repeal Funeral for the filibuster: GOP will likely lay Senate tool to rest Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief MORE (D-Del.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseLive coverage: Trump's FBI nominee questioned by senators Committees vie to be first to question Trump Jr. Lynch spox: Ex-Obama official didn't discuss Clinton probe with DNC MORE (D-R.I.) during the trip, which also included meetings with members of the Syrian Opposition Council and regional leaders in Jordan and Israel. 

He declined to comment on the details of the Karzai meeting or when a final immunity deal would be reached, but reiterated the pact was close to completion after Tuesday's press briefing. 

On Tuesday, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl LevinCarl LevinFormer senator investigated man in Trump Jr. meeting for money laundering Dems abuse yet another Senate tradition to block Trump's agenda Trump's crush on foreign autocrats threatens democracy at home MORE (D-Mich.) said a troop immunity deal would be critical for any American military presence in Afghanistan after 2014. 

Levin, along with committee member Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedSenators ask for Syria policy study in defense bill Overnight Defense: Senate confirms Pentagon No. 2 | Uncertain future for Iran deal | Trump to visit Pentagon Thursday | Key general opposes military space corps Senate confirms former Boeing VP as deputy Defense secretary MORE (D-R.I.), also recently returned from a visit to eastern Afghanistan as part of a week-long congressional junket that included stops to Turkey and NATO headquarters in Brussels. 

The lack of an troop immunity deal ultimately killed an agreement between the Obama administration and Iraq on positioning U.S. forces in the country after the American pullout in December 2011, Levin pointed out. 

Washington has similar agreements with almost every country where U.S. forces are deployed, President Obama said during a joint press conference with Karzai at the White House earlier this month. 

Looking to avoid a repeat of Iraq, the White House reportedly made concessions on several key security issues in order to get the beginnings of an immunity deal in place. 

The White House has agreed to hand over complete control of U.S.-run detention facilities in the country, as well as pull out American military units stationed inside Afghan villages, Karzai said during the joint press conference. 

A possible immunity deal would also reverse a Pentagon decision to retain custody of hundreds of suspected Taliban fighters captured by American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.