A glance at NATO’s aims for Dec. summit, as tensions simmer

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U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, shakes hands with France's Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian during a NATO Foreign Ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

BRUSSELS – NATO foreign ministers met in Brussels Wednesday to make final preparations for an imminent summit of the military alliance’s leaders amid deep political tensions between the allies.

The rift was exacerbated by French President Emmanuel Macron’s allegations that NATO is suffering a “brain death” due to a lack of U.S. leadership, an unpredictable Turkey, and the need for Europe to take more responsibility for its own security.

The summit in London on Dec. 3-4 will last just a few hours, allowing little time for debate. U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to repeat his perennial demand for the 29 allies to step up military spending and this will probably dominate the meeting.

To mollify him, NATO is set to release new figures that will again show a rise in spending among European allies and Canada. The alliance says defense spending has increased five years in a row and that over $100 billion in new funds has poured in since Trump took office.

The following are some “summit deliverables” to be agreed Wednesday and unveiled in 2 weeks.

The challenge from China

The ministers will endorse a confidential report laying out NATO’s new policy toward China. The idea is to be ready for any security challenge posed by China’s rise, while still taking advantage of the economic opportunities it might offer.

NATO doesn’t plan to move into Asia, but rather to respond to China’s growing presence in Africa or its purchase of European infrastructure. The trick has been to find a way not to portray the country as an adversary like Russia.