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US designates a militant Syrian rebel group as terrorists

WASHINGTON — The United States has formally designated the Al Nusra Front, the militant Syrian rebel group, as a foreign terrorist organization.

The move, which was expected, is aimed at building Western support for the rebellion against the government of President Bashar Assad by quelling fears that money and arms meant for the rebels would flow to a jihadi group.

The designation was disclosed Monday in the Federal Register, just before an important diplomatic meeting in Morocco on the political transition if Assad is driven from power. That meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

The decision to designate the group, the register notes, was made by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Nov. 20, in consultation with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.

The State Department appeared to delay the publication of the decision to synchronize it with the expected announcement in Morocco that the United States will formally recognize the Syrian opposition.

The notice in the register lists the Al Nusra Front as one of the “aliases” of al-Qaida in Iraq.

—Michael R. Gordon, The New York Times

Chinese telecom company to open research center in Finland

PARIS — Huawei Technologies, a Chinese maker of telecommunications equipment, said Monday that it planned to open a research and development center in Helsinki next year, accelerating its investments in Europe, where its business is expanding rapidly.

The move illustrates a trans-Atlantic difference in attitudes toward Huawei. The company has been largely shut out of the U.S. market for network gear because of congressional concerns about possible security threats — fears the company insists are unfounded.

While Huawei has faced difficulties in some European markets, like France, it has done better elsewhere. Huawei employs more than 7,000 people in the region, and it says that total could double in the next three to five years. Huawei already has a research center in Italy and is studying the possibility of opening one in Spain. It also recently announced a $2 billion investment in Britain.

The planned center in Helsinki, involving an investment of 70 million euros, or about $90 million, will work on smartphone development, including features like user interfaces and power management, the company said. When the center opens next year, it will employ 30 people, but this could grow to 100 over the next five years, the company said.

—Eric Pfanner, The New York Times