- Student leaders will meet with Hong Kong government representatives on Tuesday evening
- It's the first time the two sides have met since pro-democracy protesters took to the streets
- Talks best chance for peaceful end to protests that have convulsed the city
- However, few expect major concessions.
Hong Kong (CNN) -- Student leaders will meet with Hong Kong government representatives Tuesday, the first time the two sides have met since pro-democracy protesters took to the streets of the city more than three weeks ago.
But while the talks present the best chance for a peaceful resolution to the chaotic demonstrations that have convulsed the city and divided its residents, they are unlikely to yield major concessions given that the government and protest leaders remain poles apart.
"The start of talks is not an end in itself," said Anson Chan, a former senior government official.
"Only the government can break the current impasse. It must show the leadership that has been totally lacking in the past three weeks, by coming to the table with proposals that offer genuine and substantial reform."
Police and protesters face each other across a barricade as tensions continue in in Hong Kong on Monday, October 20. Pro-democracy demonstrators are angry about China's decision to allow only Beijing-vetted candidates to run in Hong Kong's elections for chief executive in 2017.
Riot police advance on a pro-democracy protest encampment in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong early Sunday, October 19.
A woman reads on a road barricaded by pro-democracy protesters in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on October 19.
Police officers yell at pro-democracy protesters as they push forward in an attempt to clear a street in Hong Kong's Mong Kok district on Saturday, October 18.
Pro-democracy protesters sleep next to a barricade on October 18 after reclaiming streets in Mong Kok after a night of violent scuffles with police.
A Hong Kong journalist collapses in agony after being hit in the face with pepper spray during clashes with police on Friday, October 17.
Police use batons to hit pro-democracy protesters using raised umbrellas for protection during a clash on October 17.
Protesters and riot police officers face off at a main road in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong on October 17.
People shout at pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong's Mong Kok district on Friday, October 17.
Riot police clear out an encampment of protesters in the Mong Kok district on October 17. Police swooped in early to dismantle the protest campsite.
Demonstrators remove their belongings from a protest camp early October 17.
Pro-democracy protesters break down as riot police clear their camp October 17.
Riot police remove barricades early October 17.
Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung arrives for a press conference on Thursday, October 16. He said talks would resume with students as early as next week, but said street protests had caused severe disruption and could not continue.
Pro-democracy demonstrator Ken Tsang gets taken taken away by police before allegedly being beaten up in Hong Kong on Wednesday, October 15. Authorities have vowed to conduct an investigation into a widely circulated video that appears to show plainclothes officers kicking and punching the man.
A police officer shouts at a protester who was hit with pepper spray on October 15.
Pro-democracy protesters hide behind umbrellas to protect themselves from pepper spray on October 15.
Protesters move barriers as others block a main road in Hong Kong with metal and plastic safety barriers on October 15.
Police march toward pro-democracy protesters outside central government offices in Hong Kong on October 15.
Protesters gather near central government offices in Hong Kong on October 15.
Police move toward pro-democracy protesters during a standoff outside central government offices in Hong Kong on Tuesday, October 14.
Police remove bamboo that pro-democracy protesters had set up to block off main roads in Hong Kong on October 14.
Pro-democracy protesters watch as police remove barricades in Hong Kong on October 14.
Cleaners sweep the main road after the police's removal of barricades on October 14.
Police ask a protester to leave the main road of Hong Kong's Central district on October 14.
Police dismantle barricades from the streets in Hong Kong on October 14.
Police officers run to barricades set up by protesters on October 14.
Pro-democracy protesters raise their hands behind police officers after people tried to remove the metal barricades that protesters set up to block off main roads near the city's financial district in Hong Kong on Monday, October 13.
A police officer tries to stop a man October 13 from removing metal barricades set up by protesters.
A police officer scuffles with a man in Hong Kong on October 13.
Police officers arrest a pro-democracy demonstrator in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on October 13.
A pro-democracy demonstrator sets up a new barricade made of bamboo in Hong Kong on October 13.
Police officers remove barricades used by protesters in Hong Kong on October 13.
Taxi drivers protest in Hong Kong on October 13, urging pro-democracy demonstrators to clear the roads.
People gather beneath the statue "Umbrella Man," by the Hong Kong artist known as Milk, which has become a symbol at the protest site, on Saturday, October 11, in Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy protesters remain scattered at the protest site in Admiralty on Thursday, October 9. The government canceled talks that day after protest leaders urged supporters to keep up the occupation.
Taxi drivers attend a small demonstration calling for protesters to stop blocking roads through the city on October 9.
A woman drinks a soda as she walks past a barricade erected by pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong on October 9.
A pro-democracy protester sleeps on a street in the occupied area surrounding the government complex in Hong Kong on Wednesday, October 8.
A pro-democracy protester reads a newspaper in Hong Kong's Mong Kok district on Tuesday, October 7, as a police officer stands nearby.
Protesters walk up an empty street inside the protest site near Hong Kong's government complex on October 7.
Joshua Wong, a 17-year-old student protest leader, is interviewed at the protest site near government headquarters on Monday, October 6.
A man walks to work as pro-democracy demonstrators sleep on the road in the occupied areas surrounding the government complex in Hong Kong on October 6.
A ray of sunlight bathes sleeping protesters as they occupy a major highway in Hong Kong on October 6. Protesters say Beijing has gone back on its pledge to allow universal suffrage in Hong Kong, which was promised "a high degree of autonomy" when it was handed back to China by Britain in 1997.
People take an escalator to work as protesters sleep on October 6.
The statue "Umbrella Man," by the Hong Kong artist known as Milk, stands at a pro-democracy protest site in the Admiralty district on October 6.
People walk to work on a main road in the occupied areas of Hong Kong on October 6.
Police officers remove barriers outside government offices in Hong Kong on Sunday, October 5.
Student protesters carry a barrier to block a street leading to the protest site on October 5.
Pro-democracy demonstrators occupy the streets near government headquarters on October 5.
Pro-democracy demonstrators surround police October 5 in the Mong Kok district of Hong Kong.
A pro-democracy protester holds on to a barrier as he and others defend a barricade from attacks by rival protest groups in the Mong Kok district on Saturday, October 4.
Pro-democracy student protesters pin a man to the ground after an assault during a scuffle with local residents in Mong Kok on October 4.
Pro-democracy protesters raise their arms in a sign of nonviolence as they protect a barricade from rival protest groups in the Mong Kok district on October 4.
A pro-Beijing activist holds up blue ribbons for anti-Occupy Central protestors to collect as pro-government speeches are made in the Kowloon district of Hong Kong on October 4.
A man sits in front of a barricade built by pro-democracy protesters on October 4 in the Kowloon district.
Thousands of pro-democracy activists attend a rally on the streets near government headquarters on October 4 in Hong Kong.
A group of men in masks fight with a man who tried to stop them from removing barricades from a pro-democracy protest area in the Causeway Bay district of Hong Kong on Friday, October 3.
Police raise hands against protesters as an ambulance tries to leave the compound of the chief executive office in Hong Kong on October 3.
A protester tries to negotiate with angry residents trying to remove barricades blocking streets in Hong Kong's Causeway Bay on October 3. Large crowds opposed to the pro-democracy movement gathered to clear the area.
Pro-democracy demonstrators protect a barricade from "anti-Occupy" crowds in Hong Kong on October 3.
A man shouts at a pro-democracy demonstrator on October 3.
Police try to pry a man from a fence guarded by pro-democracy demonstrators on October 3.
Pro-democracy demonstrators sleep on the street outside a government complex in Hong Kong on Thursday, October 2.
As the sun rises, a protester reads during a sit-in blocking the entrance to the chief executive's office on October 2.
Yellow ribbons, a symbol of the protests in Hong Kong, are tied to a fence as police and security officers stand guard at the government headquarters on October 2.
Protesters confront police outside the government complex in Hong Kong on October 2.
Protesters camp out in a street in Hong Kong on Wednesday, October 1.
Founder of the student pro-democracy group Scholarism, Joshua Wong, center, stands in silent protest with supporters at the flag-raising ceremony at Golden Bauhinia Square in Hong Kong on October 1.
Hong Kong's Chief Executive C.Y. Leung attends a flag raising ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China on October 1.
A pro-democracy activist shouts slogans on a street near the government headquarters on Wednesday, October 1.
Hong Kong police stand guard outside the flag-raising ceremony October 1.
Pro-democracy demonstrators gather for a third night in Hong Kong on Tuesday, September 30.
Protesters sing songs and wave their cell phones in the air after a massive thunderstorm passed over the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 30.
Protesters take part in a rally on a street outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on September 30.
Student activists rest on a road in Hong Kong on September 30, near the government headquarters where pro-democracy activists have gathered.
A pro-democracy demonstrator guards a bus covered with messages of support in Hong Kong on September 30.
Protesters sleep on the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex at sunrise on September 30.
Protesters hold up their cell phones in a display of solidarity during a protest outside the Legislative Council headquarters in Hong Kong on Monday, September 29.
Protesters put on goggles and wrap themselves in plastic on September 29 after hearing a rumor that police were coming with tear gas.
Police officers stand off with protesters next to the Hong Kong police headquarters on September 29.
A man helps protesters use a makeshift ladder to climb over concrete street barricades on September 29.
Riot police fire tear gas on student protesters occupying streets around government buildings in Hong Kong on September 29.
Police officers rest after protests on September 29.
Pro-democracy protesters argue with a man, left, who opposes the occupation of Nathan Road in Hong Kong on September 29.
Pro-democracy protesters sit in a road as they face off with local police on September 29.
Pro-democracy protesters rest around empty buses as they block Nathan Road in Hong Kong on September 29. Multiple bus routes have been suspended or diverted.
Police walk down a stairwell as demonstrators gather outside government buildings in Hong Kong on September 29.
Stacks of umbrellas are ready for protesters to use as shields against pepper spray on September 29.
Protesters turn the Chinese flag upside-down on September 29 outside a commercial building near the main Occupy Central protest area in Hong Kong.
Protesters occupy a main road in the Central district of Hong Kong after riot police used tear gas against them on Sunday, September 28.
Demonstrators disperse as tear gas is fired during a protest on September 28. There is an "optimal amount of police officers dispersed" around the scene, a Hong Kong police representative said.
Police use pepper spray and tear gas against demonstrators September 28. The protests, which have seen thousands of students in their teens and 20s take to the streets, swelled in size over the weekend.
Riot police clash with protesters on September 28.
Police and protesters clash during a tense standoff with thousands of student demonstrators, recently joined by the like-minded Occupy Central movement, on September 28.
Benny Tai, center, founder of the Occupy Central movement, raises a fist after announcing the group would join the students during a demonstration outside government headquarters in Hong Kong on September 28.
Pro-democracy activist and former legislator Martin Lee wears goggles and a mask to protect against pepper spray on September 28.
A pro-democracy activist shouts at police officers behind a fence with yellow ribbons on September 28.
A sign for the Hong Kong central government offices has been crossed out with red tape by democracy activists on September 28.
Pro-democracy protesters gather near government headquarters on September 29.
Protesters gather during a demonstration outside the headquarters of the Legislative Counsel on September 28 as calls for Beijing to grant the city universal suffrage grow louder and more fractious.
Protesters tie up barricades on September 28 during a demonstration outside the headquarters of the Legislative Council in Hong Kong.
An injured protester is tended to after clashing with riot police outside Hong Kong government complex on Saturday, September 27.
Riot police use pepper spray on pro-democracy activists who forced their way into the Hong Kong government headquarters during a demonstration on September 27.
People watch from on high as pro-democracy demonstrators are surrounded by police after storming a courtyard outside Hong Kong's legislative headquarters on Friday, September 26.
Students march to Government House in Hong Kong on Thursday, September 25.
Photos: Hong Kong unrest
But this seems unlikely.
What can come out of Hong Kong talks?
Police, protesters clash in Mong Kok
HK protesters retake streets after clash
Beijing unlikely to budge
Hong Kong Chief Executive C.Y. Leung has said repeatedly that he would not step down -- a key demand of protesters.
Nor, Leung has said, is Beijing unlikely to budge on its prescription for electoral reform in the city and offer the kind of democracy protesters are seeking.
Even the moderator of the talks, Lingnan University President Leonard Cheng, warned not to expect too much:
"I'm not going to speculate at all about whether there will be a resolution," he said on Monday, adding that this would not be the only round of talks.
Five representatives from the Hong Kong Federation of Students including Alex Chow, the group's secretary general, and his deputy Lester Shum will meet with Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, Hong Kong's second in command, Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen and three other senior government officials or advisers.
The talks begin at 6 p.m. local time and will be broadcast live from The Hong Kong Academy of Medicine in an event that will likely have the city's seven million residents gripped.
Some say they will hold viewing parties and the talks will be live-streamed to crowds on big screens set up in some areas -- including Mong Kok, a busy commercial district that has seen some of the most violent confrontations between demonstrators, police and residents that oppose the protests.
READ: Protests: Who's who?
Poor can't be trusted?
On Monday, Leung offered a controversial defense of Beijing's plan for elections in the financial capital, telling foreign media that an open nomination process would give the city's poorest residents greater influence over the political system.
"You have to take care of all the sectors in Hong Kong as much as you can," he said, according to the New York Times. "And if it's entirely a numbers game and numeric representation, then obviously you would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month.
"Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies."
His comments are likely to rankle the protesters and their sympathizers given Hong Kong's yawning wealth gap and a widespread perception that the current system of government is stacked against ordinary citizens.
READ: Police force seen in new light
One possible concession the government could make to immediately defuse tensions would be to re-open Civil Square -- a fenced off courtyard outside central government headquarters that students stormed at the end of September, triggering the unprecedented protests.
There is also still some possibility of give-and-take on electoral reform, such as allowing more democrats on the nomination committee or by promising to introduce greater democracy in elections slated in 2022.
The framework proposed for the election of the city's next leader in 2017 will allow registered voters to select their leader, although candidates must be approved by a committee that critics say will be stacked with Beijing loyalists and not be representative of Hong Kong.
Currently, the chief executive is elected by a specially-appointed 1,200-member election committee.
However, even if the talks yield concrete concessions, there is no guarantee that the protesters on the streets will go home.
There are several protest groups and it's not always clear who calls the shots or whether Hong Kong's young protesters will listen.
"I would want C.Y. to step down and for the government to show that they are sincere," protester Janice Tung told CNN.
CNN's Esther Pang, Anjali Tsui, Paula Newton, Pamela Boykoff and CNN Money's Charles Riley contributed to this report.