(Adds Petronas statement)
KUALA LUMPUR, April 17 (Reuters) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has denied reports quoting him as saying the country has halted gasoline sales to Iran, saying there had been no requests since a March sale, the official news agency reported.
A news report on Friday quoted Najib as saying Malaysia had officially stopped selling fuel to Iran because of looming U.S. sanctions on the Islamic republic over its nuclear development programme.
On Thursday, Malaysian state oil firm Petronas [PETR.UL] told Reuters it had stopped selling gasoline to Iran. [ID:nSGE63E09V].
Najib told Malaysian reporters in New York on Friday that Petronas was involved in a spot sale to Iran in mid-March under a third-party deal but there had been no requests since then, Bernama news agency reported.
“It is not correct. It was not a decision taken by Petronas per se,” Najib was quoted as saying. “It involved a spot sale and there was no requirement anymore, so they don’t do it (anymore).”
“I was a bit surprised, a lot of noise has been made out of this thing.”
Najib said it was a commercial transaction and if there were further requests for spot sales, it would be up to the parties involved.
Petronas said on Saturday it had sold spot volumes of gasoline from third-party traders and suppliers to customers in Iran through its subsidiary Petronas Trading Company (PETCO).
“The last shipment of gasoline into Iran was made in mid-March this year,” it said in a statement. “PETCO’s decisions in these sales were based purely on commercial considerations.”
Petronas has been shipping about 16,000 barrels per day (bpd) of the motor fuel to OPEC members since the fourth quarter of 2009, traders said.
On Monday, Najib and U.S President Barack Obama agreed on the importance of Iran strictly abiding by its obligation under international nuclear non-proliferation pacts. [ID:nN12195502] (Reporting by Liau Y-Sing; Editing by Bill Tarrant)