Leung suggested that the formal talks could be presided over by presidents of universities in Hong Kong.

The demonstrations are in their third week, with protestors occupying key parts of the city to try to pressure the authorities to implement political reforms.

Protestors' demands include a call for the resignation or removal of the Chief Executive of the special administrative region of Hong Kong, CY Leung, widely seen as Beijing's puppet.

They also are seeking guarantees that Hong Kong citizens can freely vote in 2017 from an unrestricted list of candidates, as Beijing promised when Britain handed over control of the territory in 1997.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam canceled scheduled talks with student leaders last week, saying it was impossible to have constructive dialogue with them.

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