Hong Kong government calls off talks with pro-democracy students

Joshua Wong (2nd R), leader of the student movement, talks to the media as protesters block areas around the government headquarters office in Hong Kong on Oct 9.

HONG KONG - The Hong Kong government on Thursday called off talks with pro-democracy student leaders, dealing a blow to attempts to ease tensions that have seen tens of thousands take to the streets to demand free elections and for leader Leung Chun-ying to resign.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, the city's No 2 government official, was speaking on the eve of planned talks with student leaders after protests paralysed the city.

"Students' call for an expansion of an uncooperative movement has shaken the trust of the basis of our talks and it will be impossible to have a constructive dialogue," Lam said.

Hong Kong's Justice Department handed the investigation of a US$6.4 million (S$8.1 million) business payout to Leung to prosecutors on Thursday as political fallout grows from the mass protests in the Chinese-controlled city.

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