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Flamenco, Mediterranean diet join UN culture list

Spain's flamenco dance, the Mediterranean diet and Chinese acupuncture were all given U.N. protection Tuesday as cultural treasures worth preserving.

The traditional gastronomic meal of the French, with rites for celebrating events such as births, weddings, and birthdays, was also adopted by UNESCO's Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific

The UNESCO committee maintains a list of practices from around the world that contribute to spreading the knowledge of inherited cultural practices and promoting awareness of their importance. The committee, meeting in Nairobi on Tuesday, approved 50 of the 51 nominations presented for inclusion on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

When flamenco was announced as an addition to the list, shouts of Ole! echoed through the room from the Spanish delegation and representatives of other Spanish-speaking countries.

"I am very proud of Spaniards in the four or five regions. They have put us on the map," said Spain's ambassador to Kenya, Nicolas Martin Cinto.

UNESCO also adopted Spain's human towers, built during annual festivities in Catalonian towns, and the chant of the Sybil performed in churches on Majorca. Also joining the list were acupuncture and a traditional Chinese medicinal technique called moxibustion.

The nomination of the Mediterranean diet came from Spain, Greece, Italy and Morocco.

In Italy, the farm lobby Coldiretti organized in Rome a "Maxispaghettata" to celebrate Tuesday's announcement.

The mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, tasted the first dish of spaghetti, prepared with Italian tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil. Tourists joined in.

The confederation of Italian farmers said the UNESCO decision was a "victory of the quality, tradition and healthiness" of Italian agriculture. Another farm group, Confalgricoltura, welcomed the news and said the decision was of "priceless value for the image of our agriculture."

Jacob ole Miaron, the committee's president and a Kenyan, said it was unfortunate there were no nominations from African countries, despite the continent's rich heritage. He said African governments were not allocating enough resources to the preservation of their culture.

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Associated Press reporter Francesca Prosperi in Rome contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS spelling of ole Marion to ole Miaron.)