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WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the United States and Afghanistan had finalized the wording of a security agreement that would allow for a lasting U.S. troop presence through 2024 and set the stage for billions of dollars of international assistance to keep flowing to the government in Kabul.

The deal, which will be presented for approval by an Afghan grand council of elders starting Thursday, came after days of brinkmanship by Afghan officials and two direct calls from Kerry to President Hamid Karzai, including one Wednesday before the announcement.

The day before, a senior aide to Karzai had said the Afghan leader would not approve an agreement unless President Obama sent a letter acknowledging U.S. military mistakes during the 12-year war. Kerry insisted Wednesday that a deal was reached with no U.S. apology forthcoming.

“President Karzai didn’t ask for an apology. There was no discussion of an apology,” Kerry said. “I mean, it’s just not even on the table.”

After a 12-year war that stands as the longest in U.S. history, the security agreement defines a training and counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan lasting at least 10 more years and involving 8,000 to 12,000 troops, mostly American. (The U.S. now has 48,000 troops in the country, and the coalition of allies has an additional 27,000, according to the U.S. Defense Department.)

The United States has an initial agreement from Afghan officials that U.S. soldiers will not face Afghan prosecution in the course of their duties. U.S. special-operations forces will retain leeway to conduct anti-terrorism raids on private Afghan homes, a central demand that Afghan officials had resisted and described as the last sticking point in negotiations.

In the end, the Obama administration and the Karzai government had more reason to agree than disagree, according to officials on both sides. U.S. officials do not want to see Afghanistan again become a haven for terrorists after it spent billions of dollars and thousands of lives in the war. The Afghan leadership knows that more than $4 billion in annual international-security assistance would not arrive absent any U.S. military presence to account for it.

Domestic-political risks remain for both presidents. Some in Afghanistan criticize Karzai for being the political agent of a long-term foreign military presence. And Obama must explain to a nation weary of war why he is pressing for a continued military deployment, albeit a smaller one than advocated by U.S. military commanders.

Further, there is an immediate risk to the deal: The security agreement must be approved by an Afghan council, known as a loya jirga. About 3,000 elders and leadership figures, all vetted by the Karzai government, will meet in Kabul for the next three days to weigh the agreement’s language.

“We have agreed on the language that would be submitted to a loya jirga, but they have to pass it,” Kerry said.

The loya jirga has the right to revise or reject any clause of the draft agreement. Whatever the elders agree upon then goes to the Afghan Parliament, which could make more changes before the agreement is approved.

On the U.S. side, only the Obama administration needs to approve the agreement, but it could reject changes made by Afghan officials. If it does, that leaves open the option for the U.S. to pull all troops out of Afghanistan. Such was the case in Iraq. Sectarian violence has plagued Iraq since, and some fear Afghanistan could head down that path without a continued U.S. presence.

The agreement itself would not establish a final troop number after the official NATO combat mission ends in December 2014. That is still to come from the Obama administration.

There would be no direct combat role for most of those troops, who would be assigned to major headquarters and not out in the field with Afghan fighting units. There would be a much smaller counterterrorism force envisioned by U.S. and NATO planners.

The current draft agreement accedes to the central U.S. demand that ended up scuttling the Iraq negotiations: U.S. military personnel would be subject only to U.S. military law, not Afghan laws, and Afghanistan pledges not to turn them over to any international tribunals.

The proposed treaty does, however, grant Afghans legal jurisdiction over contractors.

Material from The Associated Press and Bloomberg News is included in this report.