Angela Merkel made her first foreign trip as German chancellor Wednesday, calling the NATO alliance the main forum for settling world problems and saying her country must heal its rift with the United States.

Before traveling to Brussels, Germany’s first female leader stopped in Paris, where she reiterated her country’s close ties with France and signaled that foreign relations will be a priority of the coalition government she heads.

Merkel showed few signs of any shift in the foreign policies pursued by her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, but she said the time has come for improving relations with the Bush administration that were bruised by Schroeder’s strong opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Good idea.