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Hong Kong talks fail to resolve issue; dialogue open

world Updated: Oct 21, 2014 20:54 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

The first round of talks between Hong Kong officials and Occupy Central movement representatives ended on Tuesday evening without any breakthrough but with the promise of more dialogue over the coming weeks, which could possibly resolve the impasse.

Pro-democracy protests have rocked Hong Kong for about four weeks now with students spearheading the agitation demanding a direct election to elect the city’s leader in 2017.

But the framework for that election – which will have a committee to vet the candidates for the election in 2017 -- as decided by the Beijing in end-August is unlikely to change, top officials said after Tuesday’s talks.

Chief secretary Carrie Lam, who headed the televised talks for the government, said the dialogue was “constructive” but gave enough indications that Beijing will not withdraw the August legislation passed by its Parliament, the National People’s Congress.

“If the students cannot accept this position, I am afraid we will continue to have different views,” Lam was quoted as saying by news agency AFP after the talks.

Earlier, the city’s chief executive CY Leung, in an interview to news agencies, said there was room to discuss the formation of the 1200-member committee that would select the candidates.

“How we should elect the 1,200 so that the nominating committee will be broadly representative, there's room for discussion there,” Leung told foreign news agencies, adding: “There's room to make the nominating committee more democratic, and this is one of the things we very much want to talk to not just the students but the community at large about.”

Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, which is representating the protesters, said the government's stance was “vague”.

“We would say that the government needs to further explain it in front of the public,” Chow was quoted as saying.

Chow and the other representatives, according to state media, argued whether the decision made by the NPC Standing Committee on August 31 could be altered or revised.

There was no immediate announcement about new dates for talks. It was also immediately clear how long those students and protesters still camping on the streets of Hong Kong would continue to do so.