CARACAS, May 20 (Reuters) - Venezuela’s military will escort Iranian tankers delivering fuel to the gasoline-starved nation as soon as they enter the South American country’s exclusive economic zone, defense minister Vladimir Padrino said on Wednesday.

Padrino said in a state television interview that the escort would “welcome them in and thank the Iranian people for their solidarity and cooperation,” adding the Venezuelan government had been in contact with the Iranian defense minister.