AMMAN, JORDAN, AUG. 11 -- Eleven Americans, including a 10-year-old girl who was traveling through Kuwait on a flight that was grounded when Iraqi troops invaded last week, crossed into Jordan from Iraq this afternoon.
The evacuees -- eight women, two young men and the girl, Penelope Nabokov of Albany, Calif. -- arrived at the Regency Palace Hotel in Amman after an arduous journey across the desert. The adults included U.S. Embassy staff members from Baghdad and their dependents. They arrived with luggage, pets and bottled water.
The group, which crossed 660 miles of Iraqi desert by car, entered Jordan three days after leaving Baghdad. In Washington, a State Department spokesman, Martin Quinn, confirmed that the party had crossed at the Jordanian border town of Ruwaished after Iraqi authorities had held them up on the other side for two days. U.S. Embassy officials declined to provide names or details of the group and would not offer any explanation for the delay.
U.S. officials in Amman said the evacuees and their families had asked not to be interviewed by the press.
As the Persian Gulf crisis intensified, concern over the fate of 3,500 Americans trapped in Iraq and Kuwait grew. On Friday, 12 Arab countries backed Saudi Arabia's call for outside military help against a possible Iraqi strike.
Five East German diplomats also managed today to come across the frontier from Iraq, and a West German diplomat, who left for Baghdad on Friday, said he would try to arrange for others to get out. In London, the Foreign Office said 21 British citizens have escaped from Iraqi-occupied Kuwait.
The light flow of Westerners leaving Iraq has suggested that Iraqi authorities are intentionally detaining foreigners as a kind of guarantee against military action. With communication links between Baghdad and the outside world very limited, contact with those still behind Iraqi lines has been difficult.
American firms that have employees in Iraq have received reports that officials there are not providing foreign workers the exit permits required to leave. Some analysts suspect the Iraqis may fear losing the foreign expertise needed to keep sophisticated machinery running while Iraq is being blockaded by the rest of the world.
Jonathan Owens, a U.S. Embassy spokesman, said American diplomats were eligible for exit permits after a seven-day wait.
The particular case of Nabokov had attracted special attention after her father publicized her plight. She had been flying unaccompanied from France to India, where her mother, Isabel, was doing research. The flight stopped in Kuwait City on Aug. 2 and passengers were taken into custody by Iraqi soldiers during the invasion.
Her father, Peter Nabokov, said today in Albany, a San Francisco suburb, that he was called at about 4:15 a.m. and notified that Penelope had been allowed to leave. He said Penelope called him at about 9:15 a.m. from Amman.
"I asked her if she was tired," he said. "She said, 'Well, Dad, how would you feel if you had been driving 16 hours across the desert?' " He said she asked about their neighbors and sounded cheerful and composed.Staff writer Cynthia Gorney in Albany contributed to this report.