(CNN) -- British Foreign Secretary William Hague begins a two-day visit in Myanmar Thursday for talks with President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
He started the trip in the capital, Naypyitaw, meeting with his counterpart, Wunna Maung Lwin.
The visit, the first in more than 50 years by a British foreign secretary, follows that of Hague's U.S. counterpart Hillary Clinton a little more than a month ago.
Hague, in a statement posted on the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office's website on Wednesday, welcomed recent reforms by the "Burmese government," a reference to the country's name before its change by the former military regime in 1989. He cited the "release of some political prisoners, the dialogue with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, improvements in media freedoms, and changes to legislation that have enabled the National League of Democracy to participate in this year's by-elections."
Hague said Britain "hoped to see the release of all remaining political prisoners, free and fair by-elections, humanitarian access to people in conflict areas, and credible steps toward national reconciliation."
A decree by Thein Sein marking the country's independence day on Wednesday reduced sentences and released more than 30 prisoners. However, opposition activists said the actions were not enough, and that none of the released prisoners were high-profile.
Last March, Britain announced it would boost aid to Myanmar via the United Nations, NGOs and community groups to an average of 46 million British pounds ($72 million) per year over the next four years.
Under current EU policy, according to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Myanmar is under an arms embargo; an asset freeze and travel ban; investment ban; and a ban on development assistance except in specific sectors.
Between 1886 and 1948, then-Burma was a part of British India until gaining its independence.