WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush on Friday nominated Craig Stapleton as ambassador to the Czech Republic and former Republican National Committee chairman Jim Nicholson as ambassador to the Vatican.

``Jim Nicholson is a proven leader who will bring a solid sense of commitment to his work with the Holy See on critical world issues,'' Bush said in a statement. ``I'm confident Jim will serve the United States well.''

Nicholson, a partner in the Washington consulting firm Greener and Hook, was RNC chairman for four years before stepping down last year.

Stapleton, of Greenwich, Conn., served on the Peace Corps board of directors under Bush's father when he was president. Stapleton is president of Marsh and McLennan Real Estate Advisors Inc.

``The U.S. enjoys close relations with the Czech Republic. Craig Stapleton has worked extensively in European business affairs and I know he will be a strong representative of the United States,'' Bush said.