U.S. secretary of state criticizes China's dams on Mekong River

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his ASEAN counterparts attend the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand August 1, 2019. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Pool

BANGKOK (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday criticized China’s dam-building on the Mekong River, saying its construction had left the crucial waterway at its lowest level in a decade in Southeast Asian countries downstream.

Pompeo spoke in Bangkok, where he met ministers of the Lower Mekong Initiative countries, who complain of drought caused in part by upstream dams on the river.

“The river is at its lowest levels in a decade, a problem linked to China’s decision to shut off water upstream,” Pompeo said.

Drought in Thailand, the host for this week’s meeting of ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and others, including China and the United States, has led to the government asking farmers to delay planting rice.

Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Robert Birsel