Representatives of French presidential candidate Nicholas Sarkozy and President Jacques Chirac have denied a newspaper report that they made a deal to protect the outgoing president from prosecution in a corruption probe.

Sarkozy's office Wednesday categorically dismissed the report in Le Canard Enchaine weekly as untrue. The president's office also denied the report.

The newspaper said Mr. Chirac endorsed Sarkozy's candidacy in the April 22 election in exchange for a promise that if he wins, the conservative candidate will sponsor a bill that would spare the outgoing president from prosecution.

The article says a new anti-crime bill would set a 10-year limit on the time a judge has to close a case.

This would end a corruption probe involving Mr. Chirac's activities while serving as Paris mayor before he assumed the French presidency in 1995.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.