BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany could take part in any European training mission to Mali to help its government prepare troops to counter Islamist insurgents in the north of the African country, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday.

Northern Mali has been taken over by al Qaeda-linked Islamists. Regional leaders and international organizations failed to resolve differences on how to tackle the growing security threat when they met in Mali's capital Bamako last week.

"Free and democratic states cannot accept that international terrorism is finding a safe haven in the north of the country," Merkel said at a conference of Germany's armed forces in the city of Strausberg near Berlin.

"We know Mali's armed forces are too weak to act - they need external support and a European training mission is therefore thinkable, as is material and logistical support."

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle ruled out at the weekend the possibility of German armed forces taking part in a combat mission to the west African country but he also said Germany was prepared to help train Mali's armed forces.

(Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Michael Roddy)