06/18/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Immunity For Private Guards Is Sticking Point In Iraq Security Deal

Immunity from Iraqi law for foreign private guards is a sticking point in the deal between Washington and Baghdad over long-term US troop presence in the country, a top US official said Tuesday.

"The issue of contractors including (foreign) security contractors is a sensitive one, is a significant one," David Satterfield, the US State Department's top Iraq adviser told reporters in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

"There are outstanding issues, obviously, including issues focused on security side."

The presence of tens of thousands of foreign private security contractors has been heavily criticised, especially after last year's brutal massacre of 17 Iraqis in Baghdad by Blackwater company which offers protection to US officials in Iraq.

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