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 BlumenthalFCC head unveils plan to roll back net neutrality Senate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general Hoyer not insisting on ObamaCare subsidies in spending bill MORE (D-Conn.) told The Hill on Tuesday.
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 McCainMcCain: China has done ‘nothing’ on North Korea Trump administration weighing order to withdraw from NAFTA Graham: There are 'no good choices left' with North Korea MORE (R-Ariz.), Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteBottom Line How Gorsuch's confirmation shapes the next Supreme Court battle THE MEMO: Trump set to notch needed win with Gorsuch MORE (R-N.H.), Chris CoonsChris CoonsA Vandenberg movement in Congress Senate approves Trump's Agriculture chief How Gorsuch's confirmation shapes the next Supreme Court battle MORE (D-Del.) and Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseThe Hill's 12:30 Report Dem: Pruitt violating anti-campaigning law with GOP fundraiser Dem senators ask Bannon for more info about Breitbart contact 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 LevinFor the sake of American taxpayers, companies must pay their fair share What the Iran-Contra investigation can teach us about Russia probe Senate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral 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 ReedSunday shows preview: McMaster hits circuit for second straight week The Hill's 12:30 Report Easy accessibility of voter registration data imperils American safety 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.