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US offers condolences after Lao plane crash

The United States offered its condolences Sunday after a Lao military plane crash that killed five senior officials on board, including the defence minister of the nation.

WASHINGTON: The United States offered its condolences Sunday after a Lao military plane crash that killed five senior officials on board, including the defence minister of the nation.

The group was believed to be travelling to an official ceremony in the northeastern province of Xiangkhouang on an air force jet manufactured by Ukraine's Antonov.

The foreign ministry in Bangkok said about 20 people were on board.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel recalled hosting Defence Minister Douangchay Phichit and his wife at the US-ASEAN defence forum last month in Hawaii.

"I appreciated the opportunity to work with the minister to help advance our two countries' emerging defence relationship, and to strengthen the US-ASEAN partnership," he added.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the families of those lost and the people of Laos."

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said US officials were "deeply saddened" by the crash.

"We extend our deepest condolences to the government of Laos," she added.

Official Lao news agency KPL said authorities were trying to rescue survivors.

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