The United States said Western brands buying clothing from Bangladesh had a "critical role" in improving conditions in the sector, even as leading US retailers refuse to sign a new safety pact.
Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman visited Bangladesh, the world's second biggest garment maker after China, to urge the government to learn the lessons of a building collapse last month that killed 1,129 workers.
She referred to the changes in regulations, building codes and inspections implemented in the US after the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York, which killed 146 workers.
"It was a transformation and we hope that is the case here in Bangladesh as well," she said late on Monday following meetings with government officials, workers' groups and businesses.
Asked about the role of international buyers, she said they too must work to improve safety in an industry plagued by accidents and "sweatshop" conditions for workers, who are paid less than $40 a month.
"Absolutely, the buyers have a critical role. We will continue to work in every way to get the buyers to come to the table and every appropriate way to play the part that they must play for a sustainable solution," she said.