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Hong Kong Student Protest Group Considers Pulling Out

FILE - Hong Kong Federation of Students leader Alex Chow, center, and committee members Nathan Law, left, and Eason Chung.

One of the main groups organizing demonstrations in Hong Kong is considering calling its supporters off the streets, the latest sign the two-month old protest movement is dying.

A spokeswoman for the Hong Kong Federation of Students told a radio show Thursday the group would decide within a week whether to continue the demonstrations.

The organization is one of several that have played a key part in getting people to show up for the pro-democracy protests, which at their height attracted tens of thousands of people.

A small fraction is all that remains at two sites - one blocking a road outside government headquarters and another on a street in a popular shopping district. A third site was cleared by police last week, prompting clashes.

Another group, known as Occupy Central, has already called on protesters to leave, citing the Sunday violence, as well as past instances in which protesters and police were injured.

The three co-founders of Occupy Central on Wednesday turned themselves in to police, in a symbolic move aimed at ending the protests. Charges were not filed against the men, and it is unclear whether they will be arrested later.

Hong Kong authorities have declared the protests to be illegal and have refused to give in to the protesters demands that fully democratic elections be held in 2017.

Many protesters now acknowledge that their protests will not succeed in securing reforms, but some continue to fight. One student protester, Joshua Wong of the group Scholarism, began a hunger strike Monday.

The 18-year-old Wong is hoping to at least convince authorities to engage in a second round of talks on restarting the country's political reform process.

With the protests dwindling, the United States on Wednesday repeated its backing for the goal of universal suffrage in the Chinese territory.

Speaking before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said the people of Hong Kong should have a meaningful choice.

He also rejected criticism in China's state-run media that the Hong Kong protests are being orchestrated by the United States and other Western countries.