TEHRAN  - A majority of Iranian lawmakers on Sunday urged world powers to respect Iran's "rights" in crucial talks next week in Baghdad over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme.

Of the 290-member parliament, 203 MPs called on the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany, the so-called P5+1 group, to also seek "co-operation" with Iran, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"The P5+1 should respect the rights of the Iranian nation," the MPs said in a statement.  "And they should ignore the Zionists' pressures and move to change their policy of confrontation to co-operation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

The lawmakers also advised Iran's negotiating team to "vigorously defend Iran's rights" during the May 23 meeting with representatives of the P5+1 in Iraq's capital, and warned that Iran would "respond to any political pressure."

The statement comes as Iranian officials in recent days have stepped up their assertions that they will resist any pressure during the talks. Tehran has also asked for the lifting of Western sanctions to create a "productive" atmosphere for negotiation.

Meanwhile, Iran hopes a visit by the UN nuclear watchdog chief on Monday will lead to an accord on how to resolve disputes on monitoring its nuclear activities, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in media reports.

Salehi said Yukiya Amano's first visit since taking up the post in 2009 was a "good omen" and presented an opportunity to reset talks with the International Atomic Energy Organisation, Donya-e-Eqtesad newspaper reported. "The focus of the visit will be on the issue of modality. We hope the two sides can reach an agreement and draw up a new modality to answer (IAEA) questions and clear up ambiguities," Salehi said.

The IAEA head, due in Tehran along with its chief inspector Herman Nackaerts and number two Rafael Mariano Grossi, is expected to meet Iran's atomic chief Fereydoon Abbasi Davani, top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and Salehi. Amano's visit comes ahead of crucial talks between Iran and world powers next week in Baghdad on the disputed nuclear programme.

Meanwhile, Israel's military chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantz left for China on Sunday morning, just days ahead of a critical meeting between world powers and Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme.

According to the Israeli military, Gantz's visit comes at the invitation of China's Chief-of-Staff General Chen Bindnge, who visited Israel last August. Gantz will meet Chinese security and military officials to "discuss current security and strategic challenges, the regional security status in the Middle East and military cooperation," the military said in a statement. He will also tour the Jewish museum in Shanghai.

China is one of the five permanent UN Security Council members which along with Germany comprise the so-called P5+1 group, which will be meeting with Iranian officials in the Iraqi capital on May 23.

The Baghdad meeting marks the second round of talks between Iran and world powers over Tehran's disputed nuclear programme, which were revived in April in Istanbul after a 15-month impasse.