The US consulate has confirmed its diplomats met leaders of localist group Hong Kong Indigenous in an Admiralty restaurant on Wednesday, after photos of the encounter were published online. Both sides said there was nothing secretive about the meeting. The photos, published by news website Bastille Post on Wednesday night, showed three members of the group – including Edward Leung Tin-kei and Ray Wong Toi-yeung – meeting two consulate staffers. The quintet reportedly chatted for around an hour and a half, speaking in Putonghua at times, before going their separate ways. Some mainland media and Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying have both claimed that there were foreign forces behind the city’s pro-democracy protests of 2014. But in response to a Post inquiry, the consulate stressed the meeting was no more than routine diplomatic work. WATCH: Ray Wong discusses meeting with US consulate Its spokesperson said: “Like diplomats around the world, in pursuit of our official duties, consulate general officials seek to understand trends and developments in Hong Kong by meeting with government and non-government figures across the full range of political views.” Wong, convenor of Hong Kong Indigenous, meanwhile said the group had mainly explained their ideas to the diplomats during the meeting. READ MORE: Hong Kong Indigenous leader Ray Wong arrested, as 1967 leftists condemn radicals who attacked police in Mong Kok “[The meeting] was not some kind of secret meeting because it was held in a public place,” he said. “In the past, they could only know about localism or our organisation through the media. “But in fact, many media organisations already have their stance ... and what they write would be slightly biased. And so the most direct way is for us to tell them about our ideas and stance.” He added that they had met staff from other consulates, but declined to say which. Political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said it was “laughable” to suggest such a meeting was evidence of foreign influence. READ MORE: Spoiling for a fight: Hong Kong Indigenous candidate Edward Leung upsets the apple cart “This kind of contact is normal within the political circle. Prominent pro-establishment figures and local officials would also frequently meet with diplomats,” Lau said. “It’s being publicised on purpose. The hidden agenda is to lead the public to believe [localists] are bringing in foreign influence ... in order to discredit them politically,” he added.