Military experts from Africa, the United Nations and Europe have drafted plans to recapture northern Mali, officials said on Tuesday, as one faction of the Islamist rebels who occupy the territory called for talks.

A source with knowledge of the plan said the plan would involve a force of more than 4,000 personnel, mostly from West African countries.

"Every military option will be used - ground and air," the source said, asking not to be named.

The crisis in Mali has become a security concern for Western governments worried its vast desert could turn into a training ground for al Qaeda-linked militants.