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Germany Denies Report that Iran has Detained Diplomats

Conflicting reports say two German diplomats have been detained in Tehran

Iran's opposition figures continue to question the legitimacy of last year's presidential election, as the nation prepares for the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution next month. There are also reports that two German diplomats have been detained in Tehran.

Iran's state media says two German diplomats were detained by Iranian authorities after being accused of playing a role in organizing anti-government protests last month.

Germany's Foreign Ministry says it has no knowledge of its diplomats being detained, and dismisses accusations that German officials had a hand in the demonstrations and ensuing violence that left eight people dead.

A German Foreign Ministry spokesman also says previous reports that two German diplomats were arrested on December 27 are untrue.

Meanwhile, Iranian state television is beginning celebrations to mark the 31st anniversary of the country's 1979 Islamic Revolution by using frequent flashbacks to events of the time and speeches by the revolution's top figures.

The lead-up to the official celebration, which spans the first 11 days of February, comes as Iran's opposition movement renews criticism of the government and continues to question the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's re-election last June.

Opposition Web sites report that the wife of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, Zahra Rahnavard, has declared that the opposition still does not recognize the legitimacy of President Ahmedinejad's government.

Iran's official Fars News Agency reported this week that opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi had finally accepted the legitimacy of President Ahmedinejad. But Karroubi, in a statement on the opposition "Saham News" Web site, says Mr. Ahmedinejad was fraudulently re-elected.

But analyst Gary Sick at New York's Columbia University says Iran's top government and opposition leaders appear to be trying to find some common ground.

"[Former President Hashemi] Rafsandjani made a speech some time ago, talking about a unity plan, which did not attract a lot of attention," Sick said. "And then you look at his later statement, saying that the problem can only be solved with the assistance of the supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei]. And then you see Khamenei's speech, which seemed to indicate that he was rebuking the extremists, perhaps on all sides. And then shortly after that, you have got Karroubi making a statement that implies that, 'This is not the government we want. We do not think it got there honestly, but the Supreme Leader has recognized it, so we have to deal with it.'"

Sick concludes that while recent statements by all of Iran's top political figures indicate that they appear to be engaged in creative thinking to find some sort of accommodation, it is not clear whether that will be possible.