Hong Kong’s leader said Thursday that he is ready to start talks with pro-democracy demonstrators as early as next week, even as he ruled out any concessions to the protesters.

Student activists leading the protests — a showdown over Beijing’s control on political affairs and freedoms in the former British colony — said they were prepared to talk, but political analysts said Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had effectively offered a dialogue with one hand while closing the door to compromise with the other.

“Over the last few days, including this morning through third parties, we expressed a wish to the students to start the dialogue to discuss universal suffrage,” Leung told reporters, referring to a key point of contention: the process for how to elect his successor in 2017.

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