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Former CIA spymaster Clair George denied at his Iran-Contra perjury trial that he knew about illegal arms shipments to the Nicaraguan rebels before November 1986.

Asked if National Security Council aide Oliver North ever briefed him about such shipments, George said on Monday, "At no time did Col. North ever discuss with me details of what he was doing in Central America."George acknowledged that it was well-known in the mid-1980s that the Reagan administration had decided to assist the Contras.

George denied, however, that he knew that Oliver North, a Marine lieutenant colonel, was coordinating arms deliveries to the Contras at a time when it was banned by Congress.

George, the former head of the CIA's overseas spy operations, is charged with seven counts of perjury, obstruction and making false statements to investigators looking into the Iran-Contra affair. A previous trial ended with a hung jury.

George's testimony contradicted that of the chief prosecution witness, Alan D. Fiers Jr., who headed the CIA's Central American task force in the mid-1980s.

Fiers said that both he and George were aware of North's activities and had attempted to divert investigators from uncovering them. Fiers told of a meeting with North in the office of former CIA Director William Casey in which North denied that he was involved in Central America.

Fiers testified that George told him privately that the meeting had been a sham - an attempt to hide North's activities.

George gave a different version of the meeting on Monday, saying that Casey and North were hoping that "they would not involve the CIA in this activity because it was illegal."

He conceded that he told Fiers that the meeting was a "show" but for a different reason. He told Fiers, "It was a signal that they (North and Casey) didn't want us involved in this."