PARIS Carla Bruni has "not yet" married French President Nicolas Sarkozy and does not plan to accompany him on an official visit to India later this week, the singer and former supermodel said in an interview published on Tuesday.
However, the Italian-born Bruni was quoted by Liberation newspaper as saying that she and the president were planning on tying the knot, although she gave no details.
The couple's whirlwind romance has sparked intense media interest, and has been blamed in part on a slump in popularity for Sarkozy, with voters unhappy about his ostentatious private life at a time when the economy is struggling.
There has been speculation that she would accompany the divorced Sarkozy to India for an official visit later this week in what would have represented a challenge to protocol.
India remains deeply conservative about divorce and extra-marital relationships and concerns that Bruni might join the delegation have overshadowed the build up to the trip.
Sarkozy, 52, hinted at a news conference earlier this month that he would marry Bruni and added that the media would probably find out about it after the event.
Regional daily L'Est Republicain reported last week that they had wed in private, sparking a fresh round of media frenzy. Bruni was quoted as saying on Tuesday she was "not yet married", but added: "Even if we are planning to."
The paper said she sent text messages to friends last week telling them that the report of the secret wedding was wrong, calling the rumors "a hurricane of madness".
She also said she was not planning to accompany Sarkozy on an official visit to New Delhi on Jan 25-26.
"I cannot take part in an official visit with the president," she said, adding that she needed to be in France because she was starting to record a new album in February.
Bruni also denied reports that even if she skipped the official part of the trip she might still have hooked up with Sarkozy for a swift visit to the Taj Mahal at the end of his stay in nearby New Delhi.
"I am not going to spend the afternoon in India," she said, joking that air travel wasn't fun. "It's not good for your health either," she was quoted as saying.
However, Liberation said Sarkozy was still pushing hard for Bruni to join him and had held up the release of the official list of French delegates in the hope she might change her mind.
The paper said the confusion had upset India, adding that his hosts "were fed up with Sarkozy's bad manners".
Indian newspapers have reveled in the protocol conundrum with reports wondering if Sarkozy and his girlfriend might share the same plush suite or where she should be seated at the official banquet with Indian president Pratibha Patil.
(Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia)