hong kong democracy protests
Protesters chant pro-democracy slogans during speeches in Hong Kong Getty

Hong Kong's embattled leader has refused to resign after days of streets protests but offered to hold talks with student leaders demanding democratic reforms.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told a press conference held shortly before a protesters' deadline for him to step down that he has asked the territory's top civil servant, Carrie Lam, to open dialogue with the demonstrators on the "constitutional development" of Hong Kong.

Leung however warned that any dialogue on political reform has to be based on the Basic Law principle and framework laid out by Beijing.

Thousands of protesters have mobilised on the streets of Hong Kong as they continue to seek political reforms in the semi-autonomous city state and challenge China's "one country, two systems" arrangement in the territory.

The unrest came after Beijing decided in August that it was to screen candidates for the first election in the territory in 2017.

Earlier this week protesters threatened to escalate their actions and occupy government buildings if Leung was not to step down.

The chief executive praised demonstrators saying they have so far been "very rational and restrained" but warned that police will respond if they move on government buildings.