Leaders of a radical teachers union have held an initial meeting with Mexican government representatives to try to defuse tensions after eight people died in clashes in the southern state of Oaxaca.

The five-hour meeting in Mexico City late Wednesday was considered a first step. It produced only an agreement to meet again Monday to establish a formal agenda.

The teachers have demanded the release of their arrested leaders and a halt to implementation of sweeping education reforms.

Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said in a statement after the meeting that he made clear that the reforms were law that the government had to carry out. But he left open the possibility of compromise on other demands.

Teachers and their supporters have frozen commercial traffic in Oaxaca with roadblocks.