Hong Kong's embattled leader refused to step down Thursday, as pro-democracy protesters have demanded, and instead offered talks to defuse a week of massive street demonstrations that are the biggest challenge to Beijing's authority since China took control of the former British colony in 1997.
Student leaders of the protests did not immediately respond to the announcement by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. A wider pro-democracy group that joined the mass protests, Occupy Central, welcomed the talks but insisted that Leung still should resign.
Occupy Central "hopes the talks can provide a turning point in the current political stalemate," it said in a statement. "However, we reiterate our view that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is the one responsible for the stalemate, and that he must step down."
Leung made his comments at a news conference just minutes before a deadline that had been set by the protesters for him to quit.
"I will not resign," he said.