Mongolian Buddhists say the Dalai Lama will visit the landlocked Asian nation this week, potentially sparking an angry response from China.

A monk at the Gandan monastery in the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, said the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's four-day visit starting Friday is for purely religious purposes.

He is to receive an honorary degree, and no word was given on any meetings with political figures.

Mongolia's giant southern neighbor, China, accuses the Dalai Lama of being a separatist and routinely objects to his overseas travels. Mongolia's economy is heavily dependent on trade with China.

Mongolian Buddhism is closely tied to Tibet's strain and traditionally reveres the Dalai Lama. However, the abbot of the rival Ikh Khuree monastery criticized the visit as interference in Mongolia's internal affairs.