GENEVA (Reuters) - United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said on Friday talks should be held as soon as possible on deploying a United Nations peacekeeping force in Mali, where French-led forces are pursuing Islamist rebels ousted from cities in the north.

"The idea of deploying United Nations peacekeeping operations, transforming this African-led support mission in Mali, AFISMA, is now being seriously discussed," Ban told a news conference in Geneva.

"Since I have received a letter from interim president (Dioncounda) Traore requesting me and the Security Council to deploy the U.N. peacekeeping operation, I think this should be discussed as soon as possible."

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Mark Heinrich)