Kuwaiti Ambassador Saud Nasir Sabah said yesterday that his exile government has given money to American families in the United States who are in financial trouble because their husbands and fathers are being held hostage in occupied Kuwait.
"We are concerned to learn of the plight of American families," he said at a meeting with Kuwaiti students in Crystal City. "I assure you we will fulfill their needs. . . . The least we can do . . . is to assist your people."
Sabah would specify neither how much money his regime is giving to the Americans nor how many families the Kuwaiti Embassy here intends to help, although he said it would help everyone in need.
An economic counselor said yesterday that the embassy had transferred money to the bank accounts of four families and that he had a list of six other families he was working to contact.
He said the embassy expected to contact many more families, most of them the dependents of men who had been working in the Kuwaiti oil industry when Iraqi troops invaded Aug. 2. But he said that getting their names and U.S. addresses had been difficult.
Nearly 3,000 Americans, many of them oil field workers and their families, have not been allowed to leave Iraq or occupied Kuwait since the invasion.
Patricia Hale, whose husband Edward was among the first Americans captured by Iraqi troops, said yesterday that she was awaiting a call from the embassy. "Whatever it is, I'm most grateful," she said. "It's been kind of a blow."
Hale's husband was one of six Americans who worked for a small Texas company, OGE Drilling Inc. of Houston, that said last week it could not afford to pay its workers trapped in Kuwait and Iraq.
Sabah also said yesterday that there are plans to mobilize the Kuwaiti community in the United States to fight the invasion. "We are in the process of making the necessary arrangements to enlist our young ones to volunteer to defend their country," he said.
About 650 students from across the country met in Crystal City to prepare for the possibility of joining or rejoining the resistance movement.
"I would not want somebody from North Carolina to die for the Kuwaiti cause while I and my friends are working and studying here," said Tareq Suwaidan, chairman of the conference. "We should be the first to die."
One Kuwaiti who went home to fight and was wounded by gunfire said he felt a moral obligation to return.
"I got a lot from Kuwait and it was time to give something back," said Nasser Marri, who had been working for a Kuwaiti bank in London.
Marri, whose right arm was bandaged from what he said was a gunshot wound, said the resistance forces are arming themselves with secret stores of Kuwaiti army weapons and guns they are purchasing from demoralized Iraqi soldiers.
The head of the American chapter of a Kuwaiti women's organization said conference organizers had refused to let her address the group.
"I have a speech, an address to women, two sheets of paper, that they told me two weeks ago I could read," said Awatif Ali of the Committee for the Alliances of Women in the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula. "They tell me they have no time, no time."
Staff writer Fern Shen contributed to this report.