The United States has no role in pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, President Barack Obama said in Beijing yesterday. But that wasn't enough to avoid a stern warning from President Xi Jinping that the city's affairs were strictly China's business. "On the issue of Hong Kong, I was unequivocal in saying to President Xi that the United States has no involvement in fostering the protest that took place there," Obama said of talks with his Chinese counterpart. It is the first time the US president has spoken in public about accusations made by some mainland media and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. "We are going to consistently speak out on the right of people to express themselves and encourage that the elections that take place in Hong Kong are transparent and fair and reflective of the opinions of people there," added Obama, who travelled to Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders' summit. Leung has previously said he had proof foreign forces had long been meddling in local politics. In Beijing yesterday, Leung maintained foreign forces were interfering in the city's affairs. Xi reiterated Beijing would give its full backing to the Hong Kong authorities in handling the Occupy Central protests. "Hong Kong affairs are exclusively China's internal affair and foreign countries should not interfere in those affairs in any form or fashion," he said, adding that law and order in Hong Kong had to be maintained. Leung said: "Hong Kong, as a Chinese city and a highly open city, there have always been foreign forces [operating]. And it is my responsibility to have an understanding and awareness of foreign forces involved in movements or activities in Hong Kong." He did not substantiate his claims but again said he would do so at an appropriate time. The comments came on the 45th day of the city's unfolding civil disobedience movement, in which thousands of protesters, mainly students, have blocked parts of Mong Kok, Causeway Bay and Admiralty to press their demand for greater democracy than allowed by a ruling of the National People's Congress. Neither Obama nor Xi mentioned the prime cause of the movement - Beijing's insistence on a tightly controlled nominating committee to vet candidates for chief executive. Veteran journalist Ching Cheong said the frank exchanges showed the maturity of the Sino-US relationship but would not have any impact on the Occupy movement. "The only thing I can think of is how it would make people who think there has been external influence behind the Occupy movement embarrassed," he said, referring to Leung and his cabinet. Meanwhile, Leung said he met National People's Congress chairman Zhang Dejiang yesterday and Zhang had reiterated the central government's "resolute support" for implementing the "one country, two systems" formula and pressing ahead with the city's democratic development.