Turkish leaders, concerned that new political power for Iraqi Kurds could lead to their control of the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, have received reassurance from a visiting U.S. official that Kirkuk is a matter for all Iraqis to decide.

The Pentagon's Douglas Feith told Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul Monday the United States is committed to preserving Iraq's territorial integrity. The defense policy official said the issue of Kirkuk is not a matter for one group to decide, but for the Iraqi people in general.

Turkey is worried that Kurds in northern Iraq might use their increased influence to press for independence, and that could inspire Kurdish separatists living in southeastern Turkey.

On Monday, Mr. Gul said if ethnic unrest were to erupt in Kirkuk, the Turkish public would pressure the government to respond.

Some infomation for this report provided by AP and AFP.