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Hong Kong Talks Set for Friday


Pro-Beijing demonstrators try to approach pro-democracy protesters outside a government office in the Admiralty district in Hong Kong, Oct. 7, 2014.
Pro-Beijing demonstrators try to approach pro-democracy protesters outside a government office in the Admiralty district in Hong Kong, Oct. 7, 2014.

Hong Kong students and government officials said they have reached an agreement to begin formal talks on demands for political reforms later this week.

After meeting with student representatives Tuesday evening, Undersecretary of Constitutional Affairs Lau Kong-wah said talks with the territory's Chief Secretary, Carrie Lam, would begin on Friday.

He added that the meeting is to focus on constitutional issues.

"We have a proposed two items of the meeting. First is the constitutional basis, of the constitutional development. That is the first item. The second item is the legal requirement of the constitutional development. These are the two items," he said.

The news comes as most schools and business re-opened in the former British colony as student-led protest sites dwindled to hundreds of participants, down sharply from the ten of thousands who filled the streets for more than a week.

Lester Shum, the deputy secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, told reporters that despite Tuesday's lighter protester turnout, he believes support for the movement remains strong.

"I do not believe that we are losing bargaining power, because Hong Kong people are really ready to come out again and to participate in the occupation movement again," said Shum.

On Monday, the students and government officials announced a framework for formal talks, including equal status between the parties, multiple meetings and a government commitment to carry out any agreements that are reached.

Watch related video report by VOA's Daniel Schearf from Hong Kong

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'Sincere in having dialogue'

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Monday the government is "sincere in having dialogue on constitutional development" with the protesters, who are demanding Beijing not vet the territory's political candidates in 2017 elections.

Despite the smaller number of protesters, student leaders have vowed to keep up the fight, even while trying to accommodate those Hong Kongers who are frustrated at how the demonstrations have disrupted daily life.

The protests saw violent clashes last week after a group of Beijing mobs attacked the demonstrations.

Police also fired tear gas and pepper spray at demonstrators a week ago, prompting a wide outpouring of support for the students.

The protests are the most serious unrest in Hong Kong since Beijing took control of the former British colony in 1997.

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